Alan Clark

The word “stock” is derived from the Old English word “stocc,” meaning a stump, stake, post, or log, originally from the Old Norse word for a tree trunk, “stokker,” according to dictionaries from the Oxford University Press.

Of course, over time it has come to mean much more in today’s English, such as the goods kept by a business or warehouse available for distribution, the capital raised by a business through the issue of shares, a liquid made by cooking bones, meat, fish, or vegetables slowly in water, a person’s ancestry, or the fitting on a rifle or firearm.

At Thanksgiving, we use just about all these meanings.

We buy gifts from a company’s stock, we check our shares on the stock exchange, we make gravy and soups, think about and honor our family’s ancestry, and may use a rifle to go hunting or engage in a turkey shoot.

We also take stock of our situations, our health, and our loved ones, appraising the quality of our lives and our prospects, offering thanks for these blessings.

You all know the legend of the original Thanksgiving, a holiday feast dating back to November 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration.

For us, the Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

My own memories of Thanksgiving are clear. My brother and I, dressed like we were going to church, were taken to our grandparents’ house for a dinner of all of the above, prepared carefully and lovingly by “Granny” even with her wrinkled arthritic hands doing all the work.

The food was hot and fresh, the rolls too tempting to eat just one, the butter soft and spreadable, the tea or milk was cold, and the dessert, well, we had our pick of several of the pies or cakes spread out on a table nearby, most notably the coconut cake and the pecan pie.

I don’t remember any ice cream in the equation.

We were watched over by a stern grandfather, “Notty,” and entertained by an always happy and jovial grandmother.

Years later, after such a meal, the men sat around a television for NFL football for several hours, maybe even savoring leftovers if there were any.

The entire day was preceded by a prayer from either my father or grandfather, giving “thanks” for all our blessings and for this food.

Another form of “taking stock” came later in life when the current generation insisted we list those things for which we feel blessed.

It is a good exercise and verbalizes how everyone is really feeling about Thanksgiving.

It is all a prelude to the looming Black Friday and the rush of Christmas, but the reflection puts it all in perspective.

During the months of November and December, the best of Franklin County always comes out.

Churches, service organizations and government entities all pitch in and work together to help families and individuals who need help, whether they need financial assistance or just a good warm meal.

It is heart-warming to know there are so many who care enough to look after others during the season when tragedy can often strike harder than at any other time of the year.

I wish I had the space and the information to list all those who do this, but I know I would leave someone out, so suffice to say Franklin County does its part to make these months memorable, and you should be proud for it.

Keep checking this newspaper for stories about some of the events and organizations deeply involved in making a difference in the lives of many here.

My father always provided sound advice to my brother and me.

One of his best pieces of guidance was, “Never pass up an opportunity to say ‘thank you.’”

So let me just take this opportunity to offer my thanks, not only for the blessings in my life, family, friends, and neighbors, but also to all of you who take the time to take stock, appreciate what you have, and are willing to offer some of it to others during Thanksgiving. God bless you, Franklin County.

Award-winning columnist Alan Clark’s editorials are available as podcasts on Apple Music.

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