Column 1: Thanks for what?

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

With the Thanksgiving holiday now behind us, we can imagine how many people near us in California, and those in the Southwest, Midwest and East Coast probably have had to ask the question, “Thanks for what?!?! Not hard to understand with the horrific storms ‘back there’, seemingly every few days. Whole communities flattened by tornadoes in a wide swath from south to north, all too often. Then, hurricanes blasting their way from the Atlantic onto the land from Florida up to the Northeast and New England bringing flooding with unbelievable destruction of homes and businesses, and the tragic loss of human life.

Our friends, neighbors and families have all known of someone in California who has suffered horribly with the loss of their homes or businesses in both ends of California from the infernos racing across tinder-dry countryside swallowing up the landscape in the hundreds of thousands of acres. Everything in the fires’ path gone in minutes, if not seconds, including homes, businesses, vehicles and, most tragically, human lives and animals, all caught in the totally unexpected firestorms in California. And little or no time to flee.

“Thanks for what?!?!”, indeed. Certainly, a question not difficult to ask, or for others of us to understand. Life is not always fair. Just ask those poor souls camping out after being burned out. Sleeping on the ground in small tents in parking lots, or shelters provided by the Red Cross, or in schools or civic buildings, or generous neighbors, friends or strangers. We hear the term “resilient” used by community leaders to define and describe their citizenry in these circumstances. A term suggesting that their folks can cope and overcome their situation. The question then becomes, “How resilient, and how long can they bear up having lost everything they had, including homes, vehicles, family members, friends, pets?” If these losses are not enough to break one’s spirit, and oneself. Now no job because the business burned to the ground. Then the realization: no job, no income and no money in the bank or liquid assets. And a family to house and feed. What to do?

To add to the untold depth of despair, as this Column was being written in mid-week, the national weather guessers were telling us that some pretty good rainfall…three or four waves of it…is headed for the west coast. AND, IT CAME!!! For most of us outside the burned-off areas, we are excited for the first meaningful precipitation in way too long. For the desperate folks in the devastated Paradise area, the last thing they needed was rain to add to their misery over Thanksgiving.

With Paradise lost, what more could possibly happen? Life is not always fair. Again, “thanks for what?”

However, hopefully, resilience and benevolent help from the federal government, local agencies or community-based groups, will be the savior of our terribly devastated friends in Butte County. Donations from agencies and others are pouring in, we hear. Prayers and donations from the rest of us can certainly help.

THANKSGIVING for those of us in our community who have had so many ‘things’ for which to be grateful, has passed. In our own personal way, and with our family and friends, I hope thought was given to just how thankful we should be. (Thanks to Mom or Grandma or Aunt Suzie for cooking a great dinner can only be ONE ‘thank you’) Think much deeper about our nation, and how we enjoy the freedoms handed down to us by our Forefathers. We are truly blessed! But, we can’t take it all for granted.

THINKING about Thanksgiving gatherings recently, some person with good advice told the rest of us, “Do not talk politics at the gathering. Talk about other things.” The attempt is to shut down division in our nation; maybe just one family or group at a time?

ELECTION RESULTS keep dribbling in from across the nation, and from our military personnel overseas. As the counting seems to be going on and on, the results continue to be very surprising in some areas. The effect nationally will be seen in the House of Representatives as the newly-elected members take their places after January 1, 2019.

As the vote counting seems to have dragged on across the nation due to the processes used by many states and local counties, the number of results have continued to change, many very surprising. I enjoyed a quip from former SF Mayor Willie Brown, who commented that in Chicago, in the ‘old’ days under Mayor Daley, and others, they would close the polls at 8 o’clock, announce the results, then start counting ballots. Certainly would speed up the process, right?

CHEERS to a Navy League Council in Sonoma County whose members provided a full Thanksgiving dinner to the duty section Coast Guard crew of USCG Station Golden Gate, and families, located under the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County; about 30 personnel. These young ‘Coasties’ are the ones who save boaters and surfers in the rough area of SF Bay, and retrieve bodies of those folks who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Happens about once a week. Tough duty for young Coast Guard personnel.

BELATED best wishes to all our readers as we, too, recall how thankful we are to be where we are, who we are and that we have the very good fortune of being citizens of the United States of America, the finest in the world.

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