Our Views: Happy holiday, Louisiana

The arrival of Thanksgiving Day so close to the official end of hurricane season should remind all of us in south Louisiana how lucky we’ve been with weather this year. No major storms rolled ashore here, and those of us who lived through hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Isaac in recent years know what a blessing clear skies can be.

The cooling temperatures remind us, like the breaking of a fever, that we’ve survived another hurricane season in Louisiana and put another summer behind us.

The chill in the air these days, of course, seldom matches the steady autumn cold of New England, so widely celebrated as the cradle of the American Thanksgiving.

Those stern Pilgrims can seem distant and strange to those of us in Louisiana, separated from our own place and time not only by the space of centuries, but a huge cultural gap.

The Puritan spirit of New England seems a far cry from south Louisiana’s prevailing tradition of letting the good times roll.

The essential customs of Thanksgiving — a huge meal shared with loved ones and friends — resonates with special warmth throughout south Louisiana, where food and good times are such a part of who we are.

That makes Thanksgiving a really grand day in this region, and today, among the many other blessings of note, we give thanks for the day itself — an occasion to break bread with those we hold dear.

We know, too — of the empty chairs around some holiday tables today. They represent the absence of husbands and brothers, daughters and sons and wives who could not make it home this Thanksgiving for a variety of reasons, including military service far away.

Today, we pray for loved ones far away, and hope for future Thanksgivings when they can rejoin us, safe and sound.