To the Editor:
On November 24 our great country will pause to observe a national tradition of expressing gratitude. While you might find it amazing to think a guy can be grateful for his mother-in-law, I feel compelled to share the many fine qualities of selflessness expressed by a woman who won’t be sitting with us around the Thanksgiving table this year.
It is clear that we are living in troubled times. Fame, opportunity, and wealth would seem to rush at a small percentage of our population, while too many experience tragedy, loneliness, and frustration. Brother David Steindl-Rast, author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness, asked this probing question that reminded me of my mother-in-law, “Do we find it difficult to imagine that gratefulness could ever become our basic attitude toward life?”
It was impossible not to be inspired by the shining example of everyday thanksgiving and selfless love exemplified by my mother-in-law, Inge Minc. How did she develop this kind, compassionate, and easily flowing love? While she never spoke about it to me or my wife, it was as if adversity compelled her to make an early choice between an expansive or narrow life. Perhaps she intuitively knew the old saying, “if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.”
Certainly nothing in my suburban and sheltered childhood could help me imagine the significant challenges that Inge faced as a young girl when she and her family found themselves trapped in Germany during World War II. There was the terror of air raids along with near starvation conditions. Fortunately, she and her family survived to make the voyage home to Brazil. In 1968 they left Brazil for the promise of a better life in America.
I will always appreciate the significant contributions Inge made to our family. On countless occasions she cared for our kids when my wife and I had to work or when we needed time for ourselves. Her family dinners were replete with sumptuous food prepared by a woman whose only earthly riches were her family.
Those who don’t have an Inge to share the holiday with might consider joining community members for an hour-long service on Thanksgiving Day at First Church of Christ, Scientist in Princeton (csprinceton.org).
Tenacre — A Ministry of Christian Scientists