Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it tends to be a long day–both for those of us having family over, and for people traveling across town or across country to be with family and friends.
What I love about Thanksgiving–aside from having my nuclear and extended family around the table–is that it requires us to focus on how fortunate most of us are. And we are fortunate. No one’s life is perfect, but whatever deficits we’ve racked up, in my family we have our health, food to eat, homes to sleep in, supportive friends and people to love. So it’s good.
When we look beyond our personal situations, of course, it’s a different story.
It’s one thing to recognize my own blessings; it’s another to look at a world in which unrest and White Nationalism are growing, or to follow reports of the daily damage that Trump is inflicting on America. I worry constantly about the social, economic and environmental challenges my grandchildren will face.
If we work hard and are very lucky, next Thanksgiving we will be grateful for the electoral defeat of Trumpworld– grateful for confirmation that good Americans outnumber the racists in his cult. (If we aren’t lucky, we can kiss the America I’ve believed in goodbye.) We shall see what the next year brings.
In the meantime, let me share some things for which I am immensely grateful:
- The readers of this blog, including but absolutely not limited to those who take the time and trouble to comment. It really helps to know that others share my angst.
- The fact that no one who will be at my Thanksgiving table is a Trump supporter–or even close. (I told you I have a wonderful family.)
- For my awesome students, who constantly demonstrate inclusiveness and concern for community and fundamental fairness–I’d turn the country over to them right now.
- And for a husband and family who put up with me….
To all of you: happy turkey day. We can return to the disaster that is our federal government tomorrow.
Let’s all take the day off.
Thanksgiving is at our house today, and I intend to stop obsessing–at least for today– over the multiplying challenges Americans face in the wake of an incomprehensible election.
Instead, I will remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for: a wonderful and supportive husband, children and step-children and children-in-law who make me proud (and who still inexplicably like to “hang out” with the old folks), four perfect grandchildren and one wonderful granddaughter-in-law (grandchildren, as my husband likes to say, are our reward for not killing our children) and an extended family of truly good people.
Neighbors and friends who are neighborly and friendly.
Former and current students who give me hope for the future, and who keep me challenged and young. (Well, young-ish) Colleagues who are collegial and intellectually stimulating.
Good health, a roof over my head and food on my table.
And last but certainly not least, the community of thoughtful and engaged “commenters” at this blog, whose observations and conversations illuminate the issues we face and give me food for thought.
I hope all of you have a great Turkey Day, and an equal number of blessings to appreciate.
Tomorrow, of course, we need to go back to the barricades.
For so many of us who are fortunate, Thanksgiving highlights a persistent irony of our lives: while there is injustice and suffering around us, our own lives are full and rewarding.
I’m Jewish, so this creates a considerable measure of guilt. I’m well aware that I’m no more deserving of my good fortune than my friend who lost a job or a husband or a child deserves that fate. So much of life is simply luck of the draw.
The least I can do–the least any of us can do–is cultivate humility and gratitude in the face of our blessings.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because it gives us an opportunity to step outside our daily routines and appreciate what we have. In my case, that includes a wonderful spouse who has put up with me for many years, children and stepchildren who are loving and interesting and accomplished people who give back to their communities, and (of course!) perfect, beautiful, wonderful grandchildren. Add good health and a job that’s rewarding, and I count myself among the luckiest women around.
A friend I admire greatly is fond of saying “From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” I think about that, and about the Talmudic injunction to the effect that, while God doesn’t expect us to perfect the world in one generation, we aren’t free not to try.
In a moral universe, those of us who have so much to be thankful for have an obligation to those less fortunate. We may disagree about the shape/nature of that obligation, but when we ignore it, we end up with shriveled souls.