Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Giving Thanks in a Messy World

Being November, the possible blog themes this month were Gratitude, along with Autumn, National Novel Writing Month, and Thanksgiving Day. When I chose Gratitude, I realized what a paradox it was at this time in history. Yes, I’m grateful for a lot of things. I have a wonderful family, a nice house, work I love to do. I write books, which means I can live part of my life in a fantasy world, creating stories, mostly crime fiction and suspense. I thought more deeply about the subject, and I knew this blog post would be serious and sad and a reminder of how blessed I really am and how blessed many who will read this are.

There’s a whole messy world outside my little office in my warm house, where plenty of food fills the refrigerator. I grew up in a different time. An innocent time. My parents worked in the shoe factories in a city in Massachusetts famous for making shoes.
The public commons were shaped like the toe and heel of a shoe, factories were everywhere, and there was plenty of work. It was hard work. I spent the summer between my last year of high school and first year of college working in the factory, along with a few friends. It was enough to make me know that was not where I wanted to spend my life. I had new respect for those who worked there to put food on the table, my mother included.

I went to a state college to study art. My tuition was $200 A YEAR. I commuted thirty miles a day, so I didn’t have to pay for room and board. That amount adjusted for inflation would be $1625 today, but tuition plus art supplies and books at the same college in 2015 totals $14,000. That doesn’t include living expenses. And that’s a bargain these days. So I’m very grateful I could afford college back then, which I worked through school to pay for, by the way. Those who want to go to college now and can’t afford the tuition take out loans they pay back for years, or they don’t go. That means college has become something only the well-to-do can afford, and unless something changes, that doesn’t bode well for the country.

Then comes the messy world—the world with kids who can’t even dream of college because all they want is a roof over their heads and a regular meal. Maybe it’s this week in particular that has me writing about how grateful I really am when I read and see the tens of thousands fleeing their homelands under siege to find a safe haven, and risking their lives and the lives of their children to do so.
Or the hundreds more killed by bombs set off by madmen for the sake of―you know, I really don’t know why. Religion? Power? Hatred? Romance? Adventure?

I’m grateful I don’t live there and feel selfish for the thought and sick at heart for those who do. I feel grateful for what I have, yet it’s an empty feeling somehow knowing that others are living in such dire poverty and fear and need, with no hope of getting out of the vortex pulling them down.

I’ve never been a person who prayed much, but this Thanksgiving, I’ll make a point of saying a prayer to whatever gods might be listening for this messy world to become neater, and that no child, no vet, no person should go hungry anywhere. It so happens that what’s going on in a world far away is material for my current work in progress that has a Middle East theme. Now, I need to make it mean something in my story.

Painting by Norman Rockwell

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, or maybe I should say, Happy Give Thanks Day.


Polly Iyer is the author of seven novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

39 comments :

  1. I wish there were a 'like' button on BlogSpot posts! This would get a big like!

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    1. Thanks for that, wangiwriter. Got more serious than I had anticipated, but the world is hard to ignore today.

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  2. Polly, you did a marvelous job of putting into eloquent words the feelings that many of us share.

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    1. Thank you, Judy. I didn't expect it to get so serious, but that's the world we live in today. I appreciate your comment.

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  3. Wonderful post. Thank you for remembering how fortunate we are. We grew up in a prosperous time for our society even if it might not have seemed like it at the time. Thank you for remembering that we stand on the shoulders of those who worked very hard to pass on to us the fortunate lives we have. I, too, went to a state college for very little and received an excellent education. It seemed expensive at the time when it was really a bargain.
    Thank you for remembering those who don't have what we take for granted. Let us be prepared to share the more-than-enough that we have.

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    1. Thanks, Lynn, for remembering. (By the way, Lynn, Mass, is the shoe city. Just an aside.) I worked two nights and Saturdays as a PBX telephone operator at a department store to pay for college. Can't do that now.

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  4. Well said. You made many points that agree with my thoughts. We're so glad we'll all be together this Thanksgiving. Last year my daughter was in the Middle East and we're glad to have her home this year.

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    1. How great that she will be home this Thanksgiving. I hope you have a joyous day. You have much to be grateful for.

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  5. Thank you for spreading your arms out and essentially giving the world a hug.

    I hope we can find it in ourselves, as Americans, to say no to the fear-mongers who would have us close our borders increasing the possibility of disenfranchisement of an entire new generation.

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    1. Thank you, Peg. Unfortunately, the politicians are pandering to the lowest common denominator. I hope we can once more be the country we used to be.

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  6. Good thoughts. I share them and hope to remember how grateful I am to be here with food and shelter and friends.

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    1. Exactly, Ellis. More than any other year, this one seems to be the one to be most grateful.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry. Thought I proofed this, but apparently not well enough. The corrected version is below.

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    2. Proofing is best the second after we press "Post."

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  8. Very lovely post, and well said...I will add my prayers and thanks to yours for the everyday blessings!

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    1. Thanks so much, Traci. It's a special time.

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  9. I often bemoan the loss of the world of my childhood, the one that now seems like it was just a dream. The values and relative security of those years appear to have evaporated in the fear and uncertainty that grip the lives of so many today. Yet, I may be recalling just the good stuff because I lived through WW2, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, etc. But still there seemed to be a foundation of hope, which is notably missing today. This is a great post, Polly -- you nailed it!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I lived through those too, though I don't remember WWII. I do remember the feeling of security, as you mentioned. It does seem different now. Less hopeful. Thanks for your input.

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  10. Well said. It is hard to balance being grateful for good fortune when so many others lack basic needs.

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    1. Yes, Diana. That's what struck me when I started the blog. Just a hard time right now for too many people.

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  11. Wonderful blog, Polly. My heart has been hurting over the past few weeks watching the rivers of people stream into Europe...and then Paris!
    I'm grateful for living in a safe place and ache for the people who are subject to such hatreds.

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    1. I think this time has affected a lot of people this way, Michele. Makes us think about what's important. Thanks.

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  12. I helped my parents put me through college by working in a shoe factory in Maine, a town not renowned for anything. The factory and the paper mill are gone.All though college I had shoes for $1.65 a pair. KB Inglee

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    1. But Maine Trotters are still being made there, I think, KB. Yes, shoes were cheap. First the competition was Brazil, then Taiwan, then...Now China.

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  13. A wonderful blog post. One of the best I've read in a while. Thanks, Polly, and I join you in prayer for our world.

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    1. Thanks so much, Maryann. That means a lot.

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  14. Very nice, Polly ... an attitude of gratitude! Hey, did they make Buster Brown's at the shoe factory?

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    1. Thanks, Christopher. Nope, Buster Browns were made in St. Louis. The factory I worked at made cheap little ballet type shoes. My job was stapling different bows and decorations on them.

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  15. Great post and sincere emotions and thoughts that resonate with so many of us.

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    1. Thanks, Jackie. I can't imagine anyone NOT thinking these things right now.

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  16. Yes, I'm grateful I was born and live here in the United States!

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  17. Thanks, Polly! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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