Heading into Thanksgiving, it’s easy to get caught up in the frantic schedule of friends, family, calendars, making beds and making plans and forget what Thanksgiving really should mean. Take a look at our Thanksgiving Schedule (click this link), and you’ll see why I easily get wrapped up in a frantic fray of planning, prepping, doing, moving, carrying, and maybe even snapping (what? me?) on occasion. But Thanksgiving Day carries a huge meaning for my brothers and me especially. Our Dad died here at home on Alligator Hall of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) on Thanksgiving Day back when we were teenagers. Nobody wanted to live more than him. And quite frankly, I know very few people who are healthy and robust who get as much out of life as he did – even when he was sick. Without getting maudlin, here’s what I want to say: See, what Dad gave us a taught us is probably one of the things I’m most thankful for — a love of land and being outdoors. And Thanksgiving is the perfect time to celebrate that.
I’ll share a little more about our family. When dad died, he had, in fact, chosen not to do much on the estate planning front. I suppose it was all just too much for him. This means that when he died, because he hadn’t worked to avoid this, the US government got a massive portion of everything he owned when it was passed to us through inheritance taxes. We were looking at losing Alligator Hall. Real estate sharks circled. We called in the auctioneers to sell anything that we could: all the cattle, the tractors and trucks, the grain bins, the bull dozer. Anything that wasn’t land. And then we turned our place into a commercial hunting operation. Mom was the gracious plantation hostess. Us kids were the menial staff: we all worked the farm (using the one tractor that we cobbled together and had to “fix” each time before we could use it), I landed the job of being chief cook and the housekeeping department, my little brother became the head mechanic, us older kids took turns coming home from college to guide the guests on quail hunts. In short, we worked as a team to save the farm. And know what, we did. Know what else, that farm is now part of the glue that keeps our family close. I guess dad did get it right. Thanks, Dad.
Here’s the point. Every single one of us can be thankful for our land, because every single one of us owns millions of acres. (Huh??) We just have to go to them or find the lands closest to us…it’s called Public Land. National Parks, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Wilderness Areas, and more. Millions of acres that are ours on which we can camp, hike, hunt, fish, bike, fly kites, explore, and unplug. Do a little research and find out more about what’s near you. It’s YOURS, so go find a corner that you can share with your family. Happily, this is land you could never lose. Let it help be glue for your family and friends.
More to be thankful for? Absolutely. Whether it’s family (don’t worry, there’s only about .001% of the US population who says they have not one family member who drives them crazy….), friends (these are NOT to be taken lightly), our health and that of our families…the list is endless — if you just stop and think about it. So this year as you make lists and chase your tail to keep up with plans, schedules, and everything that goes with your Thanksgiving weekend, stop for a moment and look around. Say thanks.
Here’s just a taste of this past year, and why I’m ever so thankful.
Hunting at AH…
The waters of AH…
The old hayloft.
Canning with mom.
Playing with the kids.
Life on the farm.
Thanks just doesn’t quite say it. It just doesn’t.