“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Next week is Thanksgiving, truly my favorite holiday of all the celebrations. My reason why is purely selfish, and self-serving, food, specifically my mom’s food. My mom cooks things for Thanksgiving that my wife won’t cook, things she won’t even eat. And my mother’s dressing can’t be replicated, believe I know for 36 years my wife has tried. She has gotten close but never perfected it.
My wife has watched my mother make her dressing for years and she always says the same thing, “I do everything she does. It must be that magical casserole dish she uses.” Maybe it is, I don’t know. I do know that you cut her dressing like butter which is perfect for a toasted turkey and dressing sandwich with Duke’s Mayo for lunch on Friday.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day that we celebrate the harvest and all our other blessings over the past year. Obviously, most of us don’t reside in an agrarian culture. If you are like me, you might harvest some lettuce, cucumbers, and a few tomatoes each year. A pious Christian might count the number of souls they have turned to Jesus as their harvest, though I would rather have just one red, ripe, juicy tomato sliced thin on two pieces of white bread, and Duke Mayo, as my bounty for the year.
Since I can’t focus on the harvest aspect of Thanksgiving, I have yet to prevent the squirrels from eating all my tomatoes, I focus on the blessings of which I have many.
To recognize your blessings, you must have the ability to generate empathy and perspective. Fortunately for me, the work that I do puts me in front of people every day that remind me of how privileged I am. For instance, I was fortunate to have been born white in a country that is ruled by whites. If my parents had been black, I know without a shadow of doubt, that I would not have had the opportunities that I have today. My Dad, a man without a college degree, who grew-up dirt poor would have been looked at differently as a black man in the 1950’s and 1960’s. That is a simple fact. A truthful fact.
My father achieved great things from very humble beginnings for one reason only, he was white. A black man in the 1960’s from the same poor background, showing the same initiative would not have been given the opportunities my father was given. He knows it and whether you are willing to admit it or not, you know it is true as well. Sadly, we have not gained much ground in 70 or 60 years. There is still an inherent bias against black Americans and other ethnic groups in this country. I would go so far as to say that whatever ground we made-up in the last 20 or 30 years we have lost in the last 10.
Yesterday, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy “cross examining” Saule Omarova, Biden’s pick to be comptroller of currency who happened to have been born in the old communist Soviet Union stated that he didn’t know whether to call her “professor or comrade”. I am sure Kennedy’s Klu Klux Klan voters in Louisiana thought that was funny as shit. But think about it, this xenophobic statement was made by a United States Senator, in 2021 at a formal hearing for the whole world to see and hear. This guy, this racist piece of shit is supposed to be a leader, an example for our country, and our children. Instead, he tries to be cute, tries to be funny, tries to let MAGA know that he is still a bigot worthy of their support and campaign dollars.
This is America today, full of people just like Sen. John Kennedy pretending that their racism is patriotism.
I am going to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family Thursday. It will be a large gathering to make-up for the one we missed last year. There will be too much food, plenty of laughter, and lots of love. I also know that there will be millions of Americans alone, with little or nothing to eat. In my community hundreds will be under a tarp trying to stay warm in the woods, hundreds more will be living in their cars, with their children wondering what the future holds. This is the America Sen. John Kennedy and so many others in the GOP and MAGA camp ignore.
Try to show your thankfulness and your gratitude with actions this holiday season. The smallest act of kindness can and will make the largest difference in somebody’s life. Happy Thanksgiving.