Submitted by Guy Williams on November 8, 2021

This has been a very difficult year. We thought that COVID was over, only to see it return. We hoped to avoid hurricanes, only to be hit with a strong Category 4 hurricane. We expected to enjoy Jazz Fest and other festivals only to see them cancelled.

As we think about this difficult year, it is helpful to reflect that at the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Plymouth colony, the stated reason for celebration was that out of 103 original colonists only half died during the first winter. The remaining colonists celebrated their survival and the bountiful harvest that made the second winter less threatening.

Our Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1853 during the depth of the Civil War. In Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, he said, “In the midst of a civil war of unequal magnitude, no outside army has attacked us, and this year has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields, no human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

As we begin the holiday season, it is appropriate to pause and give thanks. Our nation is rapidly recovering from the COVID shutdowns. Our region is rebuilding with help from around the country. Our businesses are reopening and actively looking to add workers.

As bankers, we know that our customers who approach life with gratitude seem to live longer and to do better financially. There is something therapeutic in counting blessings rather than focusing on what others have that we do not.

We are not naïve; we have all experienced losses this year. The losses may be relatives and friends that are no longer with us, business or financial reverses or experiences missed such as trips cancelled or family events missed.

In spite of our losses, it is still a time to pause and be thankful.

We live in a free country, good food is available in our stores and restaurants and as one of my old friends from Chalmette says, “Any day that the green grass is under my feet instead of over my head is a good day.”

So, take some time to think about and write down the things that you are grateful for this year. If your list included some people, write them a note telling them that they have blessed your life. We agree with New Orleanian Louis Armstrong who in 1967 during the dark days of the Vietnam War recorded his plaintive and optimistic record, “It’s a Wonderful World.”