Andy Rooney said the other night on 60 Minutes that Thanksgiving was the only true American holiday. I suppose July 4th would also qualify, but in my opinion, American or not, Thanksgiving is the best holiday. And I think this year it will be especially so. The only thing that matters in this thing we call life is our family and our loved ones. That's so obvious it's often overlooked. Careers, status, possessions, and personal skills are rewarding and important....but they should never be considered substitutes for family and friends. This Thanksgiving, I think, there is even more of a reason to focus on what's important. The nation will experience over the next 2 years the most depressed economic situation we've witnessed in at least 30 years....and I'm afraid it will actually be worse than is now expected. Thursday, when we gather our loved ones together, we won't know how our individual circumstances will change by this time next year. 401 K's have been ravaged for many, jobs have been, and will continue to be, lost, health care as well, lifestyles will be downsized, purchasing will be in a state of retraction, uncertainty will abound. It's not clear whether there will be even one quarter in 2009 of positive GDP growth.
But the one oasis in the desert of economic realities of 2009, 2010....will continue to be our family and loved ones. In our normal frenzied American lifestyles, families are simply taken for granted.....individual success, self-absorption and monetary gain become dominant....and families are an after thought. Economic uncertainty and harder times will change that.
Many businesses will go under over the next two years. If you take a look around the area, you'll see it's happening already. Extended families will be forced to consolidate their assets, many moving in together. The frivolous consumption pattern we're addicted to will, of necessity, be altered. While prices will be low and it will be a buyer's market......uncertainites and fears will keep purchasing practices in check. This time will be recorded as the first great recession of the 21st century.
I'm not sure that America will ever fully recover. I'm not quite as hopeful as President-elect Obama. It just could be that this period will mark the beginning of America's permanent, albeit slow, decline in standard of living.
However, the one important aspect of life will continue....our families and loved ones.
Pause to consider these things this Thursday....America is a great and prosperous nation....but more important than that is what actually makes our lives worth living....our families.
At The Reverend's house we will be hosting 14 people on Thursday and 22 people on Saturday. I'll have to dig deep into my patience and humor closets to endure. I'm sure many others will be hosting similar gatherings. It's definitely a lot of work.....but I rank it all high on my satisfaction list. I'm sure others do as well.
Give thanks this week for the only real importance of life.....those we care about.
Holiday reading. If you have any interest in our national financial meltdown, the following two links are very informative.....even if not very encouraging.
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