Mistress of the Mix: Thankful


I feel sorry for Thanksgiving. It's a great holiday. So unique, so North American, so full of mashed potatoes and gravy.

It's such a warm and fuzzy holiday that bridges the gap between the Christian idea of giving a shout out to God for putting food on our plates and the Pagan practice of recognizing the sun and the earth and the rain for working together to provide a bountiful harvest.

It's about the original dwellers of this land accepting the newcomers, and working through our differences to try and live together. I like that. But poor, poor Thanksgiving, it's been the middle child for a long time, and it's just getting worse. Thanksgiving is stuck between Halloween and Christmas, in a competition for the holiday spotlight that has gotten so intense, that Thanksgiving just gets lost in the middle.

And I think that's just wrong.

Don't misunderstand me. I love Halloween and Christmas, but I dislike the fact that the winter holidays have become so commercialized, with every retailer depending on their entire year going into the black by selling massive quantities of stuff to us consumers to give away to each other. In order to do this, retailers have pushed up the "Shopping Season" (just calling it what it is) to butt up against Halloween instead of politely waiting until Thanksgiving is over.

Well, today I am giving Thanksgiving its due. In fact, I'm challenging you, reader, to do your best to celebrate Thanksgiving, to even celebrate Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas, in a way that won't cost you a dime.

Here’s your challenge: Discover the things you're grateful for in your life and express it. Not just here (although I welcome your comments). Express it to those who deserve to know it in a thank you note extolling their virtues and singing their praises. Then wrap these little notes up with a ribbon and give them as as personalized holiday gifts that I guarantee will mean so much more to the recipient than a tin of peppermint bark or a hat & scarf set.

These simple, yet significant acts of grace could be the most meaningful gift you ever give.

OK, get to writing those thank you notes!

And while you're at it, please enjoy these songs of gratitude on Grooveshark.

  1. Louis Armstrong - Thankful
  2. Dido - Thank You
  3. Kelly Clarkson - Thankful
  4. Jonny Lang - Thankful
  5. Delbert McClinton - I Wanna Thank You
  6. Mavis Staples - I Wanna Thank You
  7. India.Arie - Thankful
  8. Natalie Merchant - Kind & Generous
  9. Bob Marley - Give Thanks & Praise
  10. Shaggy - Thank You Lord
  11. Michael Franti - Thank You
  12. Edwin Starr & Blinky - I'm So Thankful
  13. Bonnie Raitt - I Thank You
  14. Ruthie Foster - Thanks For The Joy
  15. Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra - I'm Thankful
  16. Sly & The Family Stone - Thankful N' Thoughtful
  17. Natalie Cole - Be Thankful
  18. Elton John - All That I'm Allowed (I'm Thankful)
  19. Bing Crosby - Thanks
  20. Ashanti - Thank You
  21. Raffi - Thanks A Lot

Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She's the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can't imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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6 Responses »

  1. Thankful for Valerie, Redding host, lovely voice and person, capable music selector at Jefferson Public Radio, Cascade Theatre supporter and never-had-a-bad-day friend. Comments about current commercialization and Native vs Round Eye beginnings even after our first act at Plymouth was stealing their buried corn are all too true. Eat, drink, be merry and grateful after acting on her ideas and remembering her wisdom.

  2. Good ideas. Good tunes.

    However, I think you got the Sly song wrong - should have picked "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)."


  3. Steve, I should keep that one for an obscure holiday playlist sometime! You know it's hard to find a good song about elves. :)

  4. Wonderful article Valerie. I have a "the crops are in, the firewood is stacked, and we'll hopefully survive the harsh winter ahead" notion of Thanksgiving. We have so much we can feast with friends and family before the snow gets too deep.

  5. Sorry to have gotten to this one after Thanksgiving. When traveling, one's computer time is catch as catch can. But I love your thoughts.

    I am continually, loudly and longly (that word is in the AJ dictionary) grateful to have been born where and who I am. When I look around at the myriad of possibilities for my existence, I have a hard time understanding what I could have done that I am so blessed. I mean, not only was I born in the U.S., I was born in CALIFORNIA, and not only in California, but in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. . . . and all that is just the beginning of my thankfulness.

    And oh, for we of the senior generation, how about Bob Hope's "Thanks for the Memories?"

    I LOVE your ideas about thank-you notes. Things are much easier to store in the heart than in the cupboards.


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