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Things could always be worse
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Thanksgiving is the great American holiday: no flag-waving, gift-giving, fireworks or lights, just family, friends and food.

Sometimes it is difficult for us to give thanks on the fourth Thursday of November when things have gone sideways and nothing seems to be going in the right direction. Our natural tendency is to see the bad and wrong and wonder why things can't be better.

We've been here before. No matter how bad times may seem in front of us, there have been times that were worse.
Perhaps the first thing for which we should truly give thanks is that we are here at all. When our forefathers landed on these shores it was not an automatic that they would stay here and survive.

A few more degrees colder, one less day of food, a couple of hostile Indians and we may never have had a Thanksgiving or a Fourth of July.

There is little doubt North America would have been settled once it was discovered. But with a turn here or a twist there, the United States of America may not even exist.

The northeast could easily have been a British colony while Florida and parts of the south could have been Spanish. Certainly Louisiana and portions of the Midwest could still be owned by France and whole sections of the southwest, Mexico. Even the west coast could have been a magnet for Far East settlements once word got out the land was there for the taking. We could be a conglomeration of governments that requires a passport to go from Georgia to Ohio.

We are creatures of the moment and easily forget what might have been. We easily forget all that is good and quickly focus on that which is bad.

But despite the current election cycle and regardless of who is in charge or who we think should be, we have survived for more than 200 years without a Kaddafi or Hussein.

We rail at the government but enjoy freedoms unlike any other country in the world.

We have a confidence in our system of government; no matter how fouled up it may be, there is an opportunity to make things right. We have yet to hunt down leaders in spider holes or worry about tanks rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue to demand change.

Certainly we have had our problems, and certainly there have been times when we have behaved badly in the name of our way of life. As with any county we have made our share of mistakes and promoted agendas we firmly believed were right, only be shown by history how wrong we were. And in other times our actions have proven to be those that made a significant difference, perhaps even saving the world from that which was unimaginable. Americans have died for that, and if you don't believe it, ask a veteran of World War II.Thanksgiving is our day, the day we share good memories and a bountiful table with our friends and loved one and relish in home, family and friends.

There is no doubt we are going there a tough time, and we have been there before, but what is does not have to be.
Our forefathers persevered and built a life and land out of something that had never existed.

We are reaping the bounty of those brave men and women, and as we enjoy our turkey and dressing, seldom do we think how different things might have been.

So regardless of how bad things may seem, regardless of how bad the hand you've been dealt may be, regardless how dark the clouds may seem, be thankful we have a day set aside that allows us to give thanks for simply being here and able to enjoy all the thing that might not have been.

It may be difficult, and perhaps for some even a cruel jolt of reality, but this is the day to appreciate all that we have with the understanding we could have much, much less.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving.

Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at