As I have done at Thanksgiving for many years, I want to proclaim some of the things for which I am thankful on this uniquely American holiday.
First and foremost, I am thankful to God, who gives me what the Bible calls “a peace that passes all understanding.” This is especially true this year as I battle a cancer diagnosis that was handed to me last May. As I tell all my friends and family, no matter when or how this turns out, with Jesus Christ in my corner, I cannot lose.
I am thankful for my loving bride, Pam, a beautiful, talented, godly woman who has borne my troubles and my children, who has been my life partner and my prayer warrior, my trusted counselor and my best friend for 44 years and counting. She is especially precious to me this year as we face my health trials together.
I am thankful for our sons. Both of them grew up far too fast, and they left behind a trail of memories for their mother and me. This Thanksgiving, as always, we will once again rejoice in their company and the gift of the five grandchildren they have given us.
I am thankful for the warmth of a wonderful old home, filled with character and history, built by my wife’s grandfather a hundred winters ago. The land on which it sits has been in her family since before the Civil War. The story goes that the frozen Nebraska topsoil had to be blasted open with dynamite, and the basement dug out using a team of mules. Since then, it has never been out of the family, and for the last 34 years we have called it our home.
In a corner of the living room sits a handmade antique rocking chair with a long history of its own. It was a wedding gift from my great-grandfather to his new bride in 1900, and it has rocked five generations of Patton babies. In Pam’s art studio upstairs sits another old rocker with a similar past from her side of the family.
I am thankful for the people in my life who know me well and still love me. You know who you are. As I told one of my sons many years ago, during a lecture about peer pressure, the people who love us will still be here long after the people we try so hard to impress have forgotten our names.
I am thankful for the Founders of the United States of America, who risked everything so that I could be born in a free country. I am in awe of this blessing God has granted me, and I vow to fight to preserve what’s left of that blessing for as long as He gives me the voice to speak out.
I am thankful for the Declaration of Independence, which acknowledges that my rights come from God, not from man, and I will continue to tell that glorious fact to anyone who will listen for as long as I have a platform from which to speak and write.
I am thankful for the Constitution, especially the First Amendment, which guarantees me the right to worship God freely and still gives me the right to express my opinion in this column every week. In these present times, it may well be the last barrier holding back a torrent of tyranny.
In past years, I have written that I am thankful that I still live in a Constitutional Republic, where the ballot box has consequences and the people are able to make corrections to the course on which our leaders have put our nation, and that in this land I love, power is transferred peacefully, following free and open elections. I pray that we have not lost that blessing.
We have plenty of problems that will be there next week as topics about which I can opine. This week, I just want to be thankful. May we all be thankful, and may God richly bless the United States of America and her people in these trying times.