Nov 22

Giving Thanks

Despite Silliness and Sadness – Giving Thanks Rules

I awoke today to the same feast of the sacred and profane that the world sees every day – the same comedies and tragedies and the same things that make us shake our heads in wonder. I also noticed that everything in Oregon is pretty much closed, except for the local golf courses. That makes sense to me. The golf course is not a place where one goes to mindlessly escape something else. It is a natural winner for meditation and family intimacy. What I wouldn’t give to play one more round with my father, and to have my mother waiting to ask us how it went at the front door. I’m thankful that I got to do that in the first place, and that I can remember it.

The silliness continues, though. I noticed that poor Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas had to sit its men’s golf team down and explain why they can’t publish a photo with all the players in the buff, with only golf club heads strategically placed to avoid a triple xxx rating. I had my own brand of silliness when I was in college, and it doesn’t have much to do with my life now – but I surely am thankful that I got to go to college, and that I can so fondly remember those years, which included a lot of golf.

I noticed that Choi Jin-Ho of South Korea has been winning left and right in the golf tour of his country. After next week, that’s going to be difficult, as he will exchange his clubs for army fatigues and a rifle, and begin his national service. Whether or not South Korea has any official day of Thanksgiving, they feel it just the same. People everywhere feel it. Still, I for one was reminded of how thankful I am that someone was willing to do that for me, generations ago and today.

Edwin Watts Golf

Official recognitions of days for the giving of thanks seem to be situated mostly on the North American continent. The U.S. celebrates on the fourth Thursday in November, and generally continues the sentiment through the weekend. Canada celebrates on the second Monday in October. The U.S. bases its day on a narrative of collaboration between Pilgrims and Native Americans, somewhat idealized, to be sure – but the sentiment is right. Some of Canada’s tradition is allegedly based on Martin Frobisher’s celebration on Baffin Island in a search for the Northwest Passage, and partly on French Settlers celebrating a good harvest. None of these people played much golf, but the respective countries sure fixed that over the following centuries. A lot of people are thankful for it.

I could not tell whether Johnny Miller’s Thanksgiving Point Golf Course in Lehi, Utah is open today, but I’m going to pretend that it is, and am thankful that someone felt moved to name it as they did. Only a golfer might realize how the game and giving thanks go hand in hand, perhaps because golf is so analogous to life. Dr. Bob Rotella says that “golf is about how well you accept, and respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.” What could be more like everyday reality?

In hindsight, I can see how my failures made some of my triumphs possible. I can see how triumphs moved me to a place where I could have more failures. Whether it’s been collegiate silliness, life changes like that of Choi Jin-Jo, the most important decisions of family and career, or just a quiet round with my dad, no matter. Now I can see that it all deserves my thanks equally, and this is the perfect day for it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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