The God Squad: My annual little things to give thanks for list

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

Every year before Thanksgiving I offer up my own personal list of little things for which I give thanks. Most of us have a ritual that before we eat, we go around the table and tell of one thing for which we are thankful this year. I began this list years ago when I realized that most of the things we are thankful for are, well to say it simply, not very creative or insightful or fresh.

The items on our lists are all good and fine and deep, don’t get me wrong. Most of us give thanks for family and health and the food we are about to eat. What I urge you, my dear readers, is to think of and speak up for the things we most often ignore or overlook — the little things and the ignored people who sustain and protect and enrich our lives. Send me your overlooked items if you get a chance and I will gladly and thankfully add them to my list.

Let me wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and particularly this year above and beyond all other years, when our impulses seduce us into bemoaning the things that have been taken from us during this pandemic, things like large family gatherings and parades and other public traditions, let us try with increased effort to give thanks for the things and people who are still given to us and who still make our lives the most blessed among the most blessed.

This year I give thanks for…

Animal rescue centers and animal rescue people.

We share this world with animals who were also created and blessed by God. “Be fruitful and multiply” is not just a blessing in the first chapter of Genesis bestowed upon us. God also gives the identical blessing to the fish and fowl of the earth. Our streets and back alleys are filled with millions of stray dogs and cats and many of them will die miserable deaths if not for the heroic animal rescue workers who gather them up, wash them, feed them and prepare them for what may be their first real home and their first real experience of love and care. They are angels to me.


Many of you have rescue animals as pets curled up near your Thanksgiving tables and we ought to take time before we eat to thank God for the chain of love and fate that brought them into your home, awaiting any scrapes that fall from your table.

Perhaps you might be inspired by these words to spend the day after Thanksgiving at an animal shelter seeking a new companion for these lonely times. Father Tom Hartman and I used to bless the work of the North Shore Animal League every year as they sent out buses across the country to pick up animals at shelters and bring them to malls and other convenient locations where people could come into the buses and adopt a pet. On the side of one of the buses was a cartoon painted by a famous cartoonist Patrick McDonall, who draws the cartoon strip "Mutts". In this three-panel bus cartoon strip, he drew a cat cogitating: In the first panel the cat says, “I know what it’s like to be alone in a cage … waiting for a kindness from a stranger… (then in the second panel) “You wait … and wait. … Hoping … praying … thinking, ‘Life shouldn’t be like this… (In the last panel). “You know You can do more…Be more…You hold onto the dream…You just wish someday you could share it with someone.”

Share the dream this Thanksgiving!

Blood donors.


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