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Was Thanksgiving sad this year?

Published November 30. 2013 09:00AM

Sometimes a thought really hits home.

Last week, my friend Pat Eisenberg sent me a social media message via Facebook.

It dealt with Thanksgiving, the holiday season, and the pain it can bring. Pat wanted me to share it.

It said, in part: "It's important to remember that not everyone is surrounded by large, wonderful families. Some of us have problems during the holidays and sometimes we're overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us. And many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness.

"We all need caring thoughts and loving prayer right now. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy, paste, and share this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune."

I can relate to Pat's thoughts. The holidays are the saddest time of the year for me.

So I posted Pat's message on my Facebook page. Not for an hour. But for a few days.

It generated lots of supportive comments.

One in particular, stood out.

Longtime friend Ruth West wrote: "My family is in heaven but I have good friends to hang out with. All of us who don't have family near are getting together here and making dinner. We'll eat together."

I believe that's the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Folks gather and recognize that we're brothers and sisters. Family is the person sitting next to you, whether you happen to be related or not.

Somehow, though, it seems everybody is dealing with an issue this year.

Some are coping with health and hospitalization, including my friend Dale. Others are dealing with employment woes. Plus, some have suffered from recent house fires. In the news business, we notice that house fires happen each year when temperatures take a dip and home heating systems are fired up. There's never a good time for a house fire, but when it happens at the holidays, it's especially sad.

Somehow, the pain of these issues can be magnified at holiday time.

This year, it seemed, Thanksgiving was somber. It fell just days after we paused to remember the 50th anniversary of a president's assassination. Many of us remember that frightening time. And so this Thanksgiving, we were reminded that life is short and happiness is fleeting.

On the other hand, maybe the circumstances of the somber JFK remembrance gave us impetus to be especially grateful for the gift of simply being here.

And, of course, we're always thankful for our health, our troops overseas, a warm house and food on our table.

But just in case you need a smile (and who doesn't?), here's a look at Thanksgiving as viewed by funny people.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan says Thanksgiving is a holiday without clear protocol.

"It's like we didn't even try to come up with a tradition," he said. "The tradition is, we overeat. 'Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?' 'But we do that every day!' 'Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?'"

Another comedian, Stephen Colbert, said "Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America's obesity statistics."

But tongue-in-cheek Jon Stewart had the most shocking assessment of the holiday, in my opinion. He compared it to the first Thanksgiving and the plight of Native Americans.

"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way," he said. "I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land."

Whatever you did, hope you had a fulfilling holiday.

And don't bother with your neighbor's land.

It's not worth it.

You can't take it with you.

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