Thursday, November 15, 2007

Attitudes of Gratitude

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — If you’re feeling challenged on the gratitude front, sometimes it helps to put things in perspective.
When it comes to participants in the first Thanksgiving, English settlers seem to have a lot more to be thankful for than their indigenous benefactors who attended the 1621 Plymouth harvest fiesta.
American Indians in general would have good reason to spend Thanksgiving singing the blues. Even their ethnic group name is derived from European invaders. I can’t refer to them as Native Americans because I’m supposed to follow Associated Press style, which specifies “American Indian.” The name America, of course, is derived from Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian who wandered around new-to-European worlds during the same period Chris Columbus was mistakenly concluding he had reached India.
I was thinking about all that during a tour of Acoma Sky City, as our guide Gary Keene described the horrors Spanish invaders imposed on his ancestors.
After chonicling foot amputations and other atrocities, Keene gracefully segued to the ultimate glass-half-full attitude.
“The Spanish did one good thing, though,” he opined, through their ignorance of nonterritorial traditions: They specified that separate territories belonged to specific groups of Pueblo peoples, thus establishing a basis for sovereign land rights and claims.
So now, down the hill from what is reportedly the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America, is a beautiful $14 million cultural center, financed by proceeds from a hotel and casino complex a respectable distance away.
Personally, gambling is one of the few vices that has never interested me, but I love the poetic justice of it all, a chance to get a little something back for that Manhattan-for-cheap-beads scam and other rotten deals through the centuries.
Keene’s cheerful attitude has made me think about all the things I have to be thankful for during a period when I’ve been mourning the loss of some of my favorite people.
Again, though, it’s all relative. Many of my friends have buried their loved ones, and most of my recently departed dear ones just relocated to other parts of the planet. I’m grateful for phones and e-mail and digital cameras that allow us to keep in touch. I’m grateful that grandson Alexander the Great escaped from San Diego before the recent devastating fires and what I fear will be a perilous decade for the once-great state of California. I’m happy that he and his mom and dad are all in the clean, green Pacific Northwest now.
I’m even grateful for commercial airlines, I decided, though I wavered a bit after lengthy delays that shortened reunions in 2007.
Still, I’m grateful that we all love — and like — each other so much that we wish we had more time together. And wherever we are this holiday season, we’ll be praying the rest of the world could have a year as wonderful as ours has been, for our troops and people struggling in war-torn nations.
Jerry Harrell of Mesilla suggests we make time to send holiday cards this year to: A Recovering American soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20307-500.
May attitudes of gratitude grace your holidays. Happy Thanksgiving.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at Access my blog by going to, click on the Blogzone and then on the Las Cruces Style icon or go directly to

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