A wild turkey shows its plumage in James City County November 22, 2016.

A wild turkey shows its plumage in James City County November 22, 2016.

Despite a thriving economy and record low unemployment rates, quarreling politicians in Washington and concerns among Americans as to whether the president and Congress are adequately governing the country have many of us preoccupied and worried about our nation’s future.

Merchants, ever attuned to the pulse of American consumers, recognized our discontentment early. Well before Halloween, they besieged shoppers with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas — hoping that by offering us nonstop holiday cheer for two months, cash registers would ring up enough sales to make this one bonanza of a season.

Yet, in the rush to Christmas, most of us tend to overlook the one truly American celebration — Thanksgiving. Sandwiched between the two most bedecked holidays of the year, this day of gratitude seems shortchanged in its importance. No one puts up decorations or plays songs for Thanksgiving. No one ever took a nighttime drive to check out light displays of pumpkins and turkeys.

Most people seem to spend little time on the gastronomic gala — except for the grocery stores. Food stores celebrate this day of feasting with exuberance by putting America’s unequaled bounty on glorious display. The aisles brim with seasonal foodstuffs. The fruit and vegetable sections are ablaze with oranges, grapes, apples, squash and pumpkins. Rich smells of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves assail the senses and awaken in even the most kitchen-shy a sudden urge to don an apron and start baking. Meat departments offer turkeys, country hams, standing rib roasts and fresh shrimp. Bakery shelves are overflowing with chocolate, pumpkin, apple and every other type of pie an American could imagine. Fluffy marshmallows and cookie-decorating supplies adorn the end caps of every aisle.

Take time to appreciate Thanksgiving. Celebrate a harvest safely gathered and a nation that still stands as a beacon of freedom. Celebrate the day gratefully and joyfully. Treasure Thanksgiving for the meaning it holds and the traditions that surround it. Rejoice in family and friends. And give thanks to the One who blessed us with our wonderful land. — Robin Beres

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