Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone will celebrate. Despite the difficult and divisive times we face, we still have much for which to be thankful.
On a personal level, I’m thankful for my family. My parents are still with us and have lived well into their 80s in relatively good health. That’s not something either would have expected when I was born. The average life expectancy has risen from about 70 years to 79 in my lifetime, thanks largely to breakthroughs in medicine and better understanding of personal health. So give thanks to science and knowledge.
My children seem to be thriving, despite my son’s disastrous kitchen experiment last night. My eldest daughter has a successful career in Sweden. She’s got a caring and interesting husband who has worked hard to make her feel at home in his native country. Their son, my first grandchild, gives me endless joy and can brighten my mood on the most trying of days. My teenagers have survived school closures and apparently enjoy school enough that complaints have been few and far between the past few weeks. I’m thankful for both them and the relative, and likely temporary, peace.
I’m thankful for my community, town, and county. Carrboro, and its neighbor Chapel Hill, has been a great place to raise children and build friendships. It offers the small town familiarity that I crave while the providing world class entertainment I enjoy. I’m on a first name basis with the people at the hardware store and a few local watering holes. I can catch a show at Playmakers produced by a nationally recognized theater company or an up-and-coming band at the Cradle. I can also hike for miles along a couple of different rivers and enjoy thousands of acres of protected land. I feel lucky to live here.
I am terribly worried about the state and future of our country, because I am so thankful we have had it. For all its flaws, it has been a land of opportunity. I’ve managed to survive for most of my adult life doing work that is fulfilling and challenging. I’ve built businesses and this blog, which may be my single most successful venture despite its relative lack of revenue. I’ve been able to do what I please, say what I want to say, and basically live by my wits. I thank the country for providing that level of freedom.
There’s a lot more I could mention, but that’s a good start. I urge everyone to just take a few days to think about what’s right as opposed to what’s wrong. Instead of arguing about the voracity of the story of the first Thanksgiving and its political implications, give thanks that the myth celebrates different cultures coming together to attempt to live in harmony. That’s part of the spirit of the nation, even if it’s not the reality of our history. We are an aspirational country, building a society from scratch made up of different cultures and traditions. Give thanks that we are still standing and for what we have. Gratitude will remind us of what we are fighting to preserve.