Vol. 22, No. 13, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Nov 23, 2021 | Parker's Midweek Update | 5 comments

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

A few years ago my church choir director in Vermillion passed out a new piece of music, the lyrics of which were attributed to Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. “When you arise in the morning,” he said, “give thanks for the morning light . . . give thanks for your life and strength, for your food and the joy of living.”

And Tecumseh continued, “If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies within you.”

So, as my 83rd Thanksgiving approaches, I give thanks for a lot of people, places and things that make life the adventurous trip it is. May some of this jog you into counting your own blessings, those little things—and some big things—that make your life merry and bright. For instance, in my case . . . . .

Cool, crisp fall mornings and my daily walk around our neighborhood loop . . . . . cranberry muffins . . . . . Legion baseball . . . . . the Reagans’ family dinner scenes on “Blue Bloods” . . . . . no-school announcements . . . . . the Dignity statue above Chamberlain . . . . . green lights all the way across town . . . . . wind chimes . . . . . harvest moons . . . . . lemon meringue pie . . . . . Governors sports, even after being gone from Pierre for 17 1/2 years.

Six unspeakably wonderful grandchildren . . . . . drumlines . . . . . the Summit League basketball tournaments . . . . . geese flying overhead in “V” formation, honking as they fly by . . . . . meatloaf simmering in the crockpot all day . . . . . graduation receptions . . . . . the Olympics . . . . . donut shops . . . . .the car starting on a bitterly cold winter morning . . . . . poinsettias at Christmas time and lilies at Easter . . . . . unexpected thank-you notes.

A penny on the sidewalk and the memory of Robert Disburg it raises . . . . . people whose personal “freedoms” do not supersede others’ safety and protection . . . . . memories of Dad and Grandma Maggie amid regrets they never got to know my kids and Mom who never got to know my grandchildren and my kids’ spouses . . . . . turkey pot pies . . . . . Christmas letters in the mail . . . . . the loyalty and kindness of my senior center chorus singers . . . . . bookstores.

Homecoming parades . . . . . “Les Miserables” . . . . . the sun streaming through stained-glass windows . . . . . memories of six special years in Vermillion with the USD music department, the UCC church, the Post 1 baseball program, Coyote sports, the amenities of living in a university town, and the friends made there . . . . . the College World Series . . . . . Macy, my loyal Newfoundland “shadow” for more than 8 years whose time is nearing an end.

Hot apple cider . . . . . the first blooming flowers of spring . . . . . Seattle with its waterfront, the UW campus, the King County water taxis, the Space Needle, the seafood, the Pike Place Market, Bainbridge Island and the Kraken . . . . . friends and memories from 2 1/2 years in Custer with the Chronicle . . . . .Milo, our aging three-legged cat who snoozes on my chest until he knows I’ve fallen asleep . . . . . marching bands . . . . . Barbra Streisand.

Rhubarb in any form . . . . . the Black Hills Playhouse . . . . . fellow walkers who look me in the eye and say “Hello” or “Good morning” as we pass on the sidewalk . . . . . the Christmas trees at the Capitol . . . . . memories of students from 17 years of teaching, who now somehow range in age from 61 to 76. . . . . families together at a Christmas Eve service . . . . . strawberry shortcake . . . . . the Twins, even in seasons like the one that just ended.

Memories of holiday feasts at my mother-in-law’s house . . . . . football games at Nebraska where hope reigns eternal . . . . . checkbook errors that work in my favor . . . . . Minneapolis with its skyways, the light rail, the U of M, Target Field, Southdale, Lake Harriet, the old Nicollet Mall, Minnehaha Falls, the Star Tribune, WCCO, and the Vikings . . . . . the colleagues from more than two decades in Capital Journal newsrooms in three different buildings.

The airliners taking off from the airport on the flight path over our neighborhood . . . . . my brother and his family and all their terrific relatives . . . . . “O Come, All Ye Faithful” complete with trumpets, tympani, organ, bells, choirs and candles . . . . . walking tacos at Post 22 games . . . . . the fact that my old-age wrinkles don’t hurt . . . . . deviled eggs . . . . . distant train whistles at night . . . . . a steaming bowl of chili on a cold day . . . . . Duke and Gonzaga basketball.

The donuts at Wall Drug . . . . . memories of three decades in Pierre with the Over Forte band, Riggs High sports and band trips, church and community choirs, Pierre Players shows, Post 8 baseball, the railroad underpass, Hilger’s Gulch, the Kiwanis Singers, Zesto, Cattleman’s Club, all the life-long friends and the kids growing up in that big house on Prospect . . . . . Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” . . . . . the Purple Pie Place in Custer . . . . . potluck dinners.

Chicago with its bridges over the Chicago River, Tribune Tower, the old water tower, Navy Pier, the Miracle Mile stores, Wrigley Field, the Field Museum, the skyline, the lake, Shedd Aquarium and the Willis Tower . . . . . peanut butter and jelly sandwiches . . . . . the magic of the Christmas Story read from the pulpit on Christmas Eve . . . . . anybody who beats the Dodgers, Astros, Cardinals (the St. Louis ones), Packers, Chiefs and Lakers.

My four kids who were delightful, busy teen-agers and who grew into equally delightful, busy, responsible, caring adults . . . . . “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the memories of growing-up years in Onida it brings to mind . . . . . the pizza delivery guy arriving at the front door . . . . . Ollie, our white shepherd, the most affectionate dog ever whose wet nose against my arm wakes me up way too early daily and who would play Frisbee Fetch all day long.

A text from one of the kids to reassure me of their safe arrival . . . . .a flyover by one of the Ellsworth bombers . . . . . the first cup of coffee in the morning, and the second and third . . . . . the sense of family that pervades a community theater cast, crew and pit band . . . . . semifinal night at a state basketball tournament . . . . . Notre Dame football . . . . . fall breezes that blow our fallen leaves down the street . . . . . Gayle, Tony and Nate on “CBS Mornings.”

Pumpkin blizzards, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cobbler, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ice cream . . . . . the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or whichever team for whom Tom Brady plays . . . . . my granddogs Lucy, Harley and Piper . . . . . the hectic, frantic busy-ness at the Denver airport terminals . . . . . church bazaars . . . . . Tyler Merriam’s SDSU broadcasts and memories of his earliest radio days on Sunday mornings on KCCR . . . . . pipe organs.

Playing Christmas music in the corridors at the civic center while people walk by on their way to a concert or a Rush game . . . . . memories of Sundays when we had thick Sunday newspapers available . . . . . Temple Square and the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City . . . . . our Charlie, who sleeps on my grandson’s bed, who occupies the couch the rest of the day and who can’t stand the four next-door wiener dogs . . . . . “Sunday Morning” on CBS.

Scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast . . . . . people who ask “How are you?” and wait to hear the answer . . . . . Mouse and Luna, our sometimes-cuddly, always-naughty cats . . . . . Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson . . . . . the NCIS shows, the FBI shows, the 9-1-1 shows, the trio of Chicago shows and “S.W.A.T.” . . . . . memories of Huron College friends and choir tours long ago . . . . . the U. of A. campus in Tucson.

The Cubs heroes of past seasons having success with their new teams—Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, et al . . . . . symphony concerts . . . . . Denver with the zoo, the 16th Street Mall, Coors Field, Casa Bonita, the museum and the mountains as a backdrop . . . . . Pastors Doug, Sharla, Peary, Greg, John, Barry and Michele who have shepherded us all at First UMC since I’ve been there . . . . . Zesto, the must-stop place in Pierre . . . . . burgers off the grill.

The scent of rain in the air . . . . . the spectacle of the state track meet . . . . . the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve . . . . . South Dakota sunsets . . . . . “Fiddler on the Roof” . . . . . friends’ birthday reminders on Facebook . . . . . America the way it was up until about five years ago . . . . . cancer patients battling their disease with smiles and positivity . . . . . the Tournament of Roses parade . . . . . “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” . . . . . cookie stores . . . . . rainbows.

The magnificent setting of the BYU campus in Provo . . . . . sweet potatoes smothered with marshmallows . . . . . huge snowflakes fluttering downward when there’s no wind at all . . . . . the Yankees’ radio broadcast team of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman . . . . . Handel’s “Messiah” . . . . . the soaring chapel at the Air Force Academy with Pikes Peak as a backdrop . . . . . the Terry Peak ski lift . . . . . the John Kerrey pedestrian bridge across the Missouri.

My kids, grandkids and their friends onstage . . . . . the falls of the Big Sioux . . . . . Game 7s . . . . . politicians who risk their party’s wrath to vote for what is right for the people and the country . . . . . the Angel City Chorale . . . . . “Masterpiece” on PBS . . . . . rainy days . . . . . Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Warriors on the basketball court . . . . . the lights of the Valley of the Sun when flying into Mesa at night . . . . . the “Skol!” chant at Vikings games.

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, let these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson be my wishes for you and yours:

Comfort on difficult days . . . . . smiles when sadness intrudes . . . . .
Rainbows to follow the clouds . . . . . laughter to kiss your lips . . . . .
Sunsets to warm your heart . . . . . hugs when spirits sag . . . . .
Beauty for your eyes to see . . . . . friendships to brighten your being . . . . .
Faith so that you can believe . . . . . confidence for when you doubt . . . . .
Courage to know yourself . . . . . patience to accept the truth . . . . .
Love to complete your life.

As Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth sang together in “Wicked,” “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” Happy Thanksgiving!

5 Comments

  1. Jeannette Schipper

    Thank you, Parker. I love the words of Emerson you share here. We wish the same for you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    • Mary DeVany

      Parker, always enjoy reading your posts! Thanks to you for reminding g us to be thankfulforthelittlethings. (Messiah!…I get to sing it again this year…with the SDSO Chorus!) The little things are really the big things, much of the time!! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

      Reply
  2. Linda Itt

    Happy Thanksgiving. Your thankfulness brings me tears if joy and memories longing for my family which I will see in a few weeks. God Bless

    Reply
  3. Deb Sheffield

    Beautifuy said! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Parker!

    Reply
  4. Karen Stein

    A gentle reminder of all past and present we have to be thankful for at a time when when we’ve focused on loss and isolation and turmoil. Parker, you’re a good man to list your boundless blessings for all to see. Thank you for reminding me that I too have a similar list.

    Reply

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