Soon the conversation turned to food. As his wife served a sumptuous meal, one of the traditional local dishes prepared simply, the gentleman asked me what I liked to cook while living there.

These were my callow and uncouth years, I must say. So my answer, unfortunately, reflected my folly.

“Since I lack the time to cook much,” I replied, “I only cook noodles for lunch. And to be honest, I’m pretty tired of them.”

Hardly a diplomatic answer, but he seemed unoffended, then gave an answer I never have forgotten.

“That may be so,” he offered with a sage grin, “but you’ve never starved before.”


I swallowed, kindly nodded and proceeded to listen as we humbly continued to share a wonderful meal.

They told me of the aftermath of war, when livestock was dead, crops and seeds had vanished, men were gone and women were left to scavenge for anything to eat.

When the war ended, it was spring and there were only a few flowers, bulbs and daisies, but mostly there were dandelions.

So they ate dandelions, and when they stopped growing, they dried dandelions – and drank gallons of dandelion tea for whatever nourishment they could provide.

That’s what they lived on, and some 50 years later, they were still grateful for it.

Every Thanksgiving, when my table is bending from the weight of a stuffed bird, piles of potatoes, corn, beans and an assembly of pies, I think of that couple – and I feel ashamed.

I have never lost a home, a town or my liberty. I have never gone without food, and thank the Lord, neither have my children.

The only real hunger I’ve experienced was not for food, but one of true gratitude for my blessings. Perhaps you’ve felt it too.

When life infects us with a sense of entitlement and greed, only gratitude can heal us, and make us humble and healthy. Gratitude is contagious and builds us up as well as others, and fills the spirit the way no other possession can.

Each Thanksgiving, I swear to myself that I’ll remember the constant need for gratitude, and yet I always fail. I’m thankful for a season that reminds me that all the blessings I avidly seek are already around me.  end mark


David Cooper
Progressive Cattleman magazine