This is an update of a post which I wrote in November, 2010.
I have many things for which to be thankful. I have food, clothing and shelter, and no reason to fear going without. I had parents who loved me, set a good example for me and provided for my material needs. I have never been without friends. I have good health for somebody my age
(75). I live in a free country under the rule of law. I live in an age when the great mass of my fellow citizens can devote themselves to other things besides working to survive. And I am thankful for the gift of life itself.
But this post is not about these things. It is about small, easy-to-overlook things I am thankful for.
I am thankful for automobiles that don’t rust out. Road salt is less of a problem now than 30 years ago, but the plastic body of my Saturn doesn’t rust anyhow.
I am thankful for automobiles that always start in the winter. I can remember when this was a big issue. I would run my car in neutral when I got home, and before I tried to start the car, in hope of recharging the battery enough to get a good start. Now, with alternators as standard equipment, that recharging takes care of itself. I am thankful for automobiles that get good traction on ice-covered and snow-covered streets, for right-side rear view mirrors and for rear-window defrosters. I am thankful for idiot bells that let me know when I am getting out of the car with my lights still on or my key still in the ignition; this idiot needs the reminder.
I am thankful for left turn lanes on expressways, for left turn signals on traffic lights and for automobile turn signals replacing hand signals. I am grateful to snowplow operators in Rochester who keep the roads clear in the worst of conditions.
I am thankful for affordable airplane travel, which makes it possible for me to good see my brother in California or my good friend in Texas in only half a day. This is easy to take for granted, but I can remember when airplane travel was a luxury and middle-class people traveled by train, and crossed the ocean by ship.
I am thankful for luggage with wheels. I can remember walking through airports and, before that, train stations carrying suitcases that felt like they would pull my arms out of their sockets.
I am thankful for ballpoint pens that don’t leak over my shirts when I accidentally put them in the washer.
I am thankful bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders provide chairs so I can sit and read. They don’t lose money by allowing me to read their books free; I spend more there than I otherwise would.
I am thankful for painless dentistry. As a boy, I once had a tooth extracted without anesthetic. The dentist used what looked like a pair of pliers. He pulled and pulled and pulled, then had to stop and catch his breath before going back and finally getting it out.
I am thankful for plastic bottles shaped with grips.
I am thankful for thermostats. My parents had a coal furnace, and we had to be constantly thinking not letting the fire go out, but also banking the furnace so as not to waste coal. One of my chores, since both of my parents worked outside the home, was to go right home when school let out and shovel fresh coal in the furnace. Now I have a gas furnace that doesn’t have to be monitored at all, and a thermostat which I can turn up or down when I feel too hot or too cold.
I am thankful for hot water heaters. I can remember when the only way to take a warm bath was to heat a kettle on a stove, and pour the boiling water into a tub of cold water.
I am thankful for search engines since as Google that allow me to find information in two minutes that I would have had to spend an afternoon in library to get, if I could find it at all. I am thankful for web hosts such as WordPress that allow me to have my own web log, free of charge and without needing to be computer-savvy. I am thankful for being able to communicate with friends in distant places through e-mail. Not to mention spam filters which free me from having to continually purge my e-mail and web log comments.
I am thankful for cable television which enables me to receive broadcasts from places other than the city I live in. And I am thankful for YouTube and Internet television which enables me to see broadcasts that my local cable carrier does not carry.
I am thankful for direct-dial long-distance telephone service. I can talk to people in distant states and even foreign countries at an affordable price and without having to deal with an operator. And for telephone answering machines.
When I was a boy, telephone service was like Internet service today. Most people had it, but a large minority didn’t. And not all telephone users had private telephone lines. Basic telephone service in those days consisted of a party line, networking a number of households; the phones of everybody on the line rang on every call, but you were supposed to recognize the distinctive ring of your own line and not listen in to others’ calls.
Microwave ovens are a great boon to a lazy cook like me. I do almost all my cooking nowadays, which consists mostly of frozen dinners, in the microwave. But I also am thankful for farmers’ markets, where I can buy fresh vegetables and fruit directly from the farm. I am grateful for trail mix and Granola. I am thankful for ethnic restaurants, which give me a taste of the world’s cuisines without me having to leave my native city.
I am thankful for unit pricing, which enables me to compare prices of what I buy at the supermarket. Otherwise I would need a calculator to figure out what is the better bargain, and even then I might not be able to do it.
What am I overlooking?
What am I taking for granted?