Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and an Ode to America

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner here. We have the "Big Hall Family Feast" every Thanksgiving, but this year, we took it to the fellowship hall at our church. Since we were there, we also invited any church family who wanted to come to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. This was not a church event - we just know that some of the folks are older and don't have family close by (if at all) and some just don't have much, so we invited them. Daughter Laura and I cooked for the last 2 days and then cooked all day today. You never SAW the like of food. And Cliff shot a 13 lb wild turkey this morning, so there was a store-bought turkey, a huge store-bought turkey breast, a ham and a wild turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, macaroni & cheese, several homemade pies and homemade just-out-of-the-oven rolls & bread (with real butter, thank you very much). It was a real farm-style feast. We had 14 people from the church, plus our 10, which is about 1/2 the church. (We average about 50 now and are starting to really grow.) At the end of dinner, we told everyone to take home some food and we got out a couple of dozen take-out boxes. EVERYONE left with a big take-out box, Laura and I filled the refrigerator with food for Sunday and we both STIll took home carloads of food.

We all had a lot of fun. We really feel blessed that we could have had a dinner like this to share, and the church family seemed to be thrilled to have dinner with us. We had a little more time than usual to visit, Cliff got a chance to get to know some of them a little better and they us. It was a real blessing for everyone - wish y'all could have been here to share it with us!

We have a dear friend that my husband met a few years ago while on a mission trip to Romania . We started talking via email and became good friends, then she and her husband came and visited us for a week. What a joy it was to hear about their different culture!

My husband loves to tell about the simple, basic lives lived by many Romanians. What we earn here in a year that keeps us solidly middle class would have us placed as very wealthy folks in Romania . We can learn a good bit from them about frugality and eating good, basic, homemade foods. I can still taste the wonderful goat cheese she brought with her, and today opened a plastic bottle (recycled, of course) of the most wonderful, fragrant Romanian honey you ever want to taste-homegrown by her father.

But they lack the one thing that we take for granted – freedom. They are not free to leave the country to work or visit without specially granted visas, which are extremely expensive and difficult to get. Our friend tells of spending $300 to apply for her visa – on a monthly salary of $80.

She sent me an email today that I wanted to share with you all. We seldom hear what the other countries of the world think of us – with the obvious exceptions of the British, French, Israel and miscellaneous unfriendly Arabic countries. Here is an excerpt from a Romanian newspaper that you all may find interesting. The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title 'C'ntarea Americii, meaning 'Ode To America ' in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei 'The Daily Event' or 'News of the Day'.

~An Ode to America ~

"Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.

On 9/ll, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about.

Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing. On every occasion, they started singing: 'God Bless America !'

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy. What on earth can unites the Americans in such way? Their land? Their history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over, I reached but only one conclusion.... Only freedom can work such miracles." ~ Cornel Nistorescu

Ah, yes, Cornel, but the point you miss - while aptly describing the American spirit and love of freedom - is our absolute, unfailing intention to keep that freedom. We “accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. …rush to empty (our-sic) bank accounts.” Not for the sheer joy of humiliating our leaders, but in an attempt to keep them honest, and to keep them working for the “right side” - the side of freedom.

In many ways, we are not the same people, not the same country, we were before 9/11. There are more laws restricting our personal privacy now than our forefathers would have ever imagined. But in some ways, we are stronger, as a collective group. We have seen what can happen in our own country and we are not willing to let it happen again. Never again will we be terrorized by forces that I personally am willing to recognize as “evil” – not from outside the United States nor inside the United States . 9/11 was the first wake up call. Perhaps Ft. Hood is the second.

Our greatest fault lies in our willingness to let others do our work, namely the state and local governments. They have been joyfully allowed to feed, clothe and house us, prevent or eliminate the birth of our children, determine the validity of marriage, even determine the validity and popularity of our religions and the quality of our spiritual life.

We have been sleeping for several decades, lulled into a sweet, drunken slumber of complacency and it has nearly cost us our lives. We are on the edge of the web, about to be drawn in to a nice, warm cocoon – only to find that it holds us safely paralyzed until we can become dinner.

But we, the people of the United States, are slowly, groggily waking up to our surroundings – a tad hung-over and disoriented, but very much aware that something evil does indeed this way come. We will need a miracle to get the country through this phase – but, to quote Cornel Nistorescu once again, “.... Only freedom can work such miracles.”