This is always the best week of the year to stop, take a deep breath and reflect on taking stock of all our many blessings.
Tomorrow (Nov. 23) is Thanksgiving.
With the covid-19 virus or its variants somewhat in check around the globe, all of us older folks still "boostered" up and even getting the annual flu shot, now it seems is the right time to have all the friends and family over for a big meal.
Many will do so, some driving or flying from great distances with, hopefully, only minimal risk of an outbreak or illness.
Still, many of us will continue to shelter in place with minimal people, for the sake of our health and the health of others. We all should take some quiet time, some down time and some time for reflection about this year -- and the future.
I usually write this column just days before Thanksgiving, but I did it a week ago, perhaps only to still hold its words at arms-length, ensuring just where we are today, the day before Thanksgiving.
There is more, I am not afraid to say, more deeply, uncharted local, national and international waters ahead for all of us.
A week before Thanksgiving, which is an American holiday, not a global celebration, a bloody war continues in the Middle East.
Nightly we see terrible scenes of bloodshed and mayhem from the cradle of civilization of the Middle East in the divided nations of Israel and Palestine.
Strangely many of us in this great country seem almost immune to this international suffering while trying each day to further divide our nation over politics, rhetoric and social issues.
Many Americans, sadly, have that long-distance version of this suffering and war, ignorantly not realizing that such a conflict could be happening here if things were different.
Yet there is a lot we should all be thankful for in 2023.
Before the interim legislative session begins in January 2024, we need to be perhaps ever so thankful for those who serve and have served as our elected officials.
I will personally grieve that some of our most approachable and those truly public servants among us are sadly retiring.
They (those who are retiring) tell me "it is not the same," as when they took office -- people, especially some of their colleagues, are meaner, less honest and most abhorrently are not there for public service but for themselves.
I mean to be truly thankful for men and women who serve nobly, effectively and first and foremost, for the good of all the people.
After this recent pandemic, good health really is a blessing, a real blessing.
If you have good health, cling to it as long as you can.
We need to be thankful that others, among us, doctors, nurses and others who worked on the front lines of this pandemic, most survived, tired, angry and scared, but they survived.
We need to be thankful to be living in the United States of America. Where else on this planet would you have as many freedoms, including the right to complain, to criticize this great nation of ours, without threat of retribution or being jailed?
As always, we all need to be thankful to be living in Arkansas.
We should be thankful for the natural beauty that surrounds us, although none of us created this landscape, we need to be truly thankful some are tirelessly working to keep the natural beauty ever-present in our state.
Be ever thankful for a free press, especially one without the trappings of hidden agendas, unfairness and government control. In these days of a declining print press, I feel extremely thankful to come to you each week in this award-winning, community-driven, and well-read and regarded newspaper publication.
I am Thankful for the legion of civic clubs, nonprofit organizations and tireless volunteers that exist to serve others in so many ways in our communities.
I am thankful that such public facilities continue to serve the public, such as libraries, senior citizen centers, boys, and girls clubs.
Be thankful everyone. If you still have not taken the vaccine, or a flu shot, consider doing so soon.
Hopefully, a better year, a real transition year in politics of 2024, is just around the corner.
I am thankful for that -- yes, I am.
Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several Northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected].