The Sunday after Thanksgiving is Russell Orchard’s traditional closing date for the year. The apples are all harvested and the cider pressed. It’s a time for reflection and looking ahead. The orchard family will scatter now for the winter. The Russells have some time for a well earned rest before they begin planning for next season at the orchard. I’ll go to the Dominican Republic for a few weeks in the sun and then perhaps travel a bit.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a talk I heard recently.The topic was gratitude. The speaker believed that when we feel gratitude, it enriches us. It is a personal feeling but it also affects those around us. It gives us a chance to think beyond ourselves. It was a good reminder that we have responsibility for the way we think and feel about the things in our lives and in the world. I joined my son Matt’s family for Thanksgiving. I had been asked to give the grace at dinner. As I thought of what I wanted to say, that talk on gratitude prompted my grace.

“We live in uncertain times. We are barraged daily with famine, war, and fear. Thanksgiving is a time for us to remember how much we have to be grateful for. Despite all the turmoil in the last year, we are still the most fortunate people in the world to live in the United States.

We gather today with the beauty of the sea outside our windows, wrapped in the warmth of this home, to share our thanks for the many blessings that are part of our lives. To be here together with our family and friends, is the greatest joy imaginable.”

Reading the newspaper and watching TV news, I feel frustrated that there’s not really anything I can do to “fix” any of the injustices and inequalities I see in this country. In small ways I do whatever I can but it’s important that I remember all the things that make me grateful. Family, friends, good health and not least, I live in America. I want to remember this as 2016 ends and 2017 begins.