Wednesday, November 22, 2006


As relatives arrive and meals are prepared for the traditional Thanksgiving observance here in the United States, it is useful to reflect back to the original observance credited to a gathering of Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans. Theirs was a celebration of post-harvest fortunes in 1621. The celebration occurred because of an unusually abundant harvest that year. Other years had not been so fortunate, since the number of Native Americans exceeded the number of surviving English at that point – a point often forgotten in the remembrance of this day.

Life was difficult then. Disease was common. Life expectancy to a child born in 1621, was a mere 35 years: nowhere near what we enjoy now. And while each of us should reflect and give thanks for our friends, family, and material goods we have today, perhaps the greatest gift that we can give thanks for is our longevity and the additional time we have to live our lives together.

It is remarkable to remember that penicillin wasn’t discovered by Alexander Fleming until 1928 and has ushered in the remarkable antibiotic era we enjoy today. That is only 78 years ago: about one man’s lifetime today. But in 1928, penicillin was cleared so quickly by the kidneys that it was often recaptured and purified from a patient’s urine due to short supply of the drug. Gratefully, probenecid was later developed to slow penicillin’s excretion in the kidneys. And more developments soon followed. Development after rapid development. The number of antibiotics available today is staggering.

Eric Zorn, a syndicated columnist from the Chicago Tribune today, put it this way:
At my age 600 years ago, even if I were Eric I of England, I’d likely be reposing in a splendid crypt. As it is, I’m perfectly healthy and taking the kids to see their grandmother in Pittsburgh, entertaining them in the mini-van with a tiny electronic slab that holds 1,500 songs, eight podcasts and two unabridged books on tape.
Yes, he’s solidly, and remarkably, in “mid-life” with plenty of years still ahead.

So as you sit down for a holiday meal, stop, think, reflect, and give thanks…

… for life.


No comments: