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Ruth Bass: Thanks-giving could be a year-round thing


The sun sets over the Taconic Range, as seen from the base of Mount Greylock. As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, columnist Ruth Bass reflects on the joys of her family, friends and life in the Berkshires.

RICHMOND — A nonprofit letter asking for a donation included a little sign that said, “I am grateful for … .”

I tacked it on the refrigerator amid assorted family photos, magnets and essential business cards. It reminded me of one of Hillary Clinton’s softer moments when she said she started every day by thinking of something she was grateful for.

Nice as that may be for her, morning here is thinking about how cold or hot it is, whether the dog will be patient for the morning bike riding, whether the coffee pot is ready to go or still containing a filter of old grounds. But at some point, getting out the yogurt, the grateful note is eye level, and I often think of something or someone I’m thankful for.

And now we’re at the annual thanking holiday when we remember the best about the Pilgrims who tossed their way across the north Atlantic in the tiny Mayflower, most of them undoubtedly violently ill as the days and weeks passed. They don’t tell you that part of the story in school.

President Joe Biden’s ship has been tossed about more than once since he took office, and I’m grateful for his steady hand, grateful to have a president who is borderline boring at times instead of a preaching extremist with crowd-rousing histrionics.

I am grateful for the president’s patience in plowing through waves of opposition to get lower drug prices, bridge and road repairs, increased investment in clean energy and clean water, and a long-awaited start toward gun control. I am grateful for the seemingly calm way he approached the Ukraine crisis. And his ability to, at least outwardly, not fret about applause or credit.

I’m grateful for so many other less cosmic things. For my golf friends, who accept my aging and erratic golf game with grace; for my hillside house and its views of the Taconic Range and even a glimpse of Hancock Shaker Village; for the ability to bend and weed and harvest vegetables; for the almost constant breeze, even on most days of the past summer’s rotten humidity. And forever grateful to Milt, whose $10,000 savings account (I had spent all my paychecks on shoes and clothes) made it possible to buy a meadow and build a house in a town we came to cherish.

And for the past year, a thank you often for my little rescue dog’s ability to master the art of living with me, despite the fact that his 12-year-old self can’t get past an imprinted fear of the larger world and its dogs.

I am grateful for people who lift, weed, clean, shovel and climb where I either can’t or don’t want to anymore. And for those who email me to comment, for or against, whatever I write here, especially the woman who said she didn’t agree with my politics but loved the writing. And heartfelt thanks for the listening ears of my longtime, always there, friend Charlotte.

Most of all, I’m grateful for the family created here, for the three-plus spouses plus six grandchildren who surround me with love and don’t let a day go by without my knowing that. They write, text, email, call and come.

We trained for our day jobs but had no training whatsoever for the awesome task of being parents, but we and they survived, pretty much unscathed, at least from where I sit. We sometimes learn, in the safety of the Thanksgiving table, about some of the truly scary things our three did without our knowing about it.

Grateful for that, too. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ruth Bass is an award-winning journalist. Her website is www.ruthbass.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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