A journalism professor at Florida State University was fond of telling his entry level students that you had to write a million words before you could consider yourself a writer.
From time to time, I have tried to figure out how long it took me to write my first million words. It is a fool’s errand.
I figure I have written more than 5,000 columns in my career, and Dad wrote more than that, starting fresh out of college, continuing even during his two years in the Army in World War II, until a series of TIAs (mini-strokes) when he was well into his 80s finally took the keen edge off his writing ability.
I regret that I didn’t read all of them, but of the thousands that I did read, one always stood out in my mind. It was written at Thanksgiving in the early 1960s. Adding to the poignancy of the message is that this was during a time of crisis in his family, including the slow and painful death of his father from throat cancer.
Dad — Loyal Frisbie — died on Dec. 5, 2004, at the age of 89, but that inspirational Thanksgiving message is timeless, and I enjoy rereading it each year at this time. Perhaps you will too.
Unless you are a turkey you have much to be thankful for at this Thanksgiving season.
If you are reading these lines, you have eyes to see with, and an education to read with.
If you are having these lines read to you, you have ears to hear with and a mind to think with.
The past year may have been a sad one for you. There may be deep troubles on the horizon ahead. Still, there should be much room in your heart for thankfulness.
If you lost a loved one in the past year, you know that they are now past pain and sorrow ... and that God has so arranged the Universe that your own grief at the loss is less as the days roll by.
If dark death sits at your door waiting for a critical illness to take its toll in your household, you do have the loved one with you for yet awhile.
Money matters may be causing you concern.
If you could afford to buy this newspaper, or if you know you will be able to feed your family today and tomorrow and the next day, there are millions of people in this world who will find it hard to believe anyone could have such good fortune.
It’s possible for the time being you are in such pain that it is a monstrous effort for you to move around.
If you are able to rise from your bed or chair and walk, there are people in hospitals throughout this land who would gladly exchange half the years they have left to do as much.
Please believe me, I would not for one moment belittle your troubles, whatever they may be. I know that your troubles weigh heavily because they are yours, and you must live with them, hour by hour, and day by day.
It is only human for each of us to feel that our burdens are heaviest. But perhaps you can join me in this thought:
As I catalogue my own difficulties and look about me, I don’t find anyone with whom I would wish to exchange miseries.
My own are familiar to me, and manageable, and I am grateful that I am alive in God’s world, where there is cause for thanksgiving in every sunbeam and every raindrop, where every new dawn brings promise of hope and faith for a brighter tomorrow.
May God’s love for his children awake an echoing love in all our hearts.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. Three years ago, in his Thanksgiving column, he said he was thankful for the opportunity to continue writing a column, and for friends who said they enjoy reading it. And he closed, “I hope I have the grace to quit writing it before you quit enjoying it.” That has not changed.)