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An autumn past, a dear new friend sent me a Max Coots prayer/poem/chant for Thanksgiving. It has been his tradition for many years and now it is mine as well; a simple connection, a virtual whisper of thanks. I thought long and hard about posting it on my blog, as I usually send it as an email. In the end I chose to include it as the spirit is wider than my contact list and my feelings about it aren’t constrained by form.
If this is your first time receiving it we might have just met or perhaps reconnected after many years. Perhaps you are a stranger, stumbling on it as a novice and to you I say welcome. If you remember it from seasons past, I hope you enjoy it once more and wrap yourself in the true feeling it comes with. If you are one of the lucky ones, receiving this both from me and my dear friend…you are twice blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For children who are our second planting.
And though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away,
May they forgive us our cultivation and remember fondly where their roots are.
Let us give thanks:
For generous friends, with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends as tart as apples; for continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we’ve had them.
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible.
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you.
For funny friends who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time and young friends coming on as fast as radishes.
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings.
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; for all these we give thanks.
— Max Coots
1928-2009

We all know how babies are made, yet there is a different kind of co-mingling and sufficient collective labor that really useful things are born. Remember the commercial with the jingle “Look for the Union Label”? *cue sappy music* Feels like a such long time ago, when the American worker was protected by strong unions and lauded for a job well done. Everything has changed; manufacturing, the job market, the way we view organized labor and how we treat our workers. Our teachers and government employees have become the enemies as time sweeps them up in a political sentiment of smaller government. This is no longer the world of FDR, JFK and LBJ, whose visions of a Great Society have been ground to pieces in the profit mill.
The spirit of the American worker has been stripped down, diminished by outsourcing, plant closures and the low-lying message that we are replaceable in a world of Corporate profits, soaring CEO salaries and raided retirement funds. What has not changed is our ability to create and it is the creative spirit that wins every time. I remember the moment when I realized that outside of nature, everything I understood as the world around me was imagined, invented, engineered and build by someone. I was ten and awed by the notion. The dreamer, the doer, the builder, the sower, the seller, some toiling alone in the dark of night, others gathered in a field at the break of dawn– by the sweat of our brow and the wings of desire… Inventor, financier, laborer, public servant, hand-in-hand… We built that. *Music swells*
On this holiday weekend as you take respite, remember those who came before, who toil today and those who search for work in this difficult economy. Give thanks to the laborer who dug the ditch, laid the pipe, cut the trail, built the roads, the railroads, the bridges, stitched your clothing from the weaver’s fabric, assembled your car, your iPhone, your laptop. Take a moment to appreciate the teachers who taught you and the postman who carried the news of your college acceptance. Hug a tree in gratitude for the deck where you’re slaving over the BBQ grill, for those who brewed your beer and stuffed your sausage— all of these people have lead you to where you are in this moment and where you’ll be in the future. Stuck in traffic on the Eisenhower Tunnel. Happy Labor Day everyone!