Giving Thanks Has Special Meaning Today; Celebrating Safely

I almost can’t believe it. Almost. I am going to visit friends, share a Thanksgiving, not virtually, not remote, but in person. Face to face. Maskless. We will be able to see each other’s lips move. We might even hug, not elbow bump. Might. Don’t know yet.

 

We are all boostered. All of us will do a home COVID test beforehand. New hoops to jump through to enable the celebration of a holiday, the first such celebration for us in almost two years.

 

And there is so much to be thankful for. We are alive despite the pandemic.

 

We are relatively sane now one year after suffering four years of a malignant, wanna-be dictator. A man who did his best to shock us into letting him destroy democracy right before our eyes. Who tried to destroy the rule of law as well as truth so we wouldn’t believe the obvious and the factual. Not only about what he was doing to our right to vote but the fact of the earth itself suffering and maybe dying.

 

I am so thankful that President Biden is in the White House, and not the white supremacists, who still disturb the halls of Congress and plot the overthrow of decency and democracy. But, at least for the moment, they don’t totally control things.

 

The tension in the nation has certainly lessened compared to two years ago but is still too high. President Biden has not been perfect by any measure, but he has pushed for more legislation to significantly help the mass of people in this country than I thought he would. He has restored relative rationality to international relations, to facing the climate crisis, as well as ending the pandemic.

 

I anticipated that it would be difficult to get anything done in Congress, due to the GOP’s new identity as the Destroy Democracy Party, and the Party of No, where almost every Republican tries to destroy almost anything Democrats try to pass, especially what would be most helpful to us the people. So I will be even more thankful when Biden and the Democrats end the filibuster, so voting rights legislation passes, along with legislation to promote better childcare, extend the Child Tax Credit, develop clean energy and other environmental legislation.

 

Considering the death threats and incitements to violence coming against him and several other Democrats even from GOP members of Congress, I am so thankful for those who agree to serve democracy.

 

I give thanks to the fact that I still have a voice. The smaller voice of my body and the bigger voice I try to join with, of all those who remember what compassion feels like.

 

And I want to give thanks that I have family and friends, wonderful people, who I’ve known for forty or even fifty plus years. Who care for me and yet aren’t afraid to speak their own truths. Who I can just relax with, be “myself.” Create a holiday with. A celebration.

 

That we also remember, on the fourth Thursday in November, the National Day of Mourning, or Native American Heritage Day. This day reminds us that the story that used to be told of the Thanksgiving holiday is a myth hurtful to Native American people ⎼ and to us if we celebrate and ignore such a painful lie.

 

I wish for all of us a wonderful day of thanksgiving. To remind ourselves of whatever we can be thankful for, to remember those we’ve lost, and what we could’ve lost during the regime of DJT. And of what needs to be done now so we can be safe and celebrate other holidays in the future.

 

*This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

The Most Important Lesson I Learned In College Was The Value of Friendship

After 49 years, I returned this past weekend to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I went to college. For years after graduating, I dreamed about the place. I dreamed about the people and places I loved, tests I didn’t like, professors that inspired me, and weird twists on all of these people and places. But slowly, the dreams eventually ended. New people and places began to dominate my mind.

 

Like many people of my generation, college changed me. It was a rite of passage, or the closest to such a formal initiation that we had then in our culture. It didn’t lead immediately to a job. But it did nurture my life-long interest in philosophy, psychology and history. It was where I first learned to meditate, acted in my first play, had my first poem and story published, and participated in my first (20) political demonstrations.

 

It was on a school-arranged trip that I first flew to Europe, or first flew on any airplane anywhere.

 

It was also where I met 2 life-long friends, Al and Mark. For the last 41 years we have celebrated Thanksgiving together despite living in different cities. This year will be the 42nd.

 

And this year we decided to do it differently. We would first fly to Ann Arbor the weekend before Thanksgiving, meet with some old friends, see our old haunts, and even go to a football game. I hadn’t been to a football game since 1967. Then we would fly home, and a few days later drive with our families to one of our homes to celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving.

 

One of our old college friends, Steve, came to visit us at the house the 3 of us had rented. I had seen Steve only once since graduation, maybe 15 years ago. So when he came to the door, I was surprised by the joy I felt in seeing him. We hugged with sincere affection.

 

We sat in the living room and talked for hours. Steve led it off, talking about his life, his triumphs and frights. Words had been our door to the depths of our souls and we entered through that door once again. Then I told my stories, then Al, and Mark. Even though I had heard Al and Mark’s stories before, I didn’t feel “I heard all this already.” I felt I was hearing the stories for the first time, with a new twist, or as if their stories were my own.

 

We shared not only memories, but also a way of viewing the world. And a sound track, of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, the Stones, Beetles, and Leonard Cohen. A few words from a line of this sound track would come to one of us, to explain a feeling or event, and the others would complete it…

To read the whole post, please click on this link to the Good Men Project, which published it.

Thank You.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. It’s been a very full week already. We buried my Dad on Monday, in New Jersey. This afternoon, we will drive three and a half hours to my friend’s house near Woodstock, New York, to celebrate the holiday.

 

I am lucky. For the last forty-two years or so, my wife and I have joined with my friends from College, the University of Michigan, to share the holiday together. When we were younger, we all stayed in one house, like a small community. Now, we need to rent an additional place to sleep. This was always one of the most important events of the year for me, the time I could let go of demands and just be with people without the need for any pretense. They were part of my family.

 

My Mom and Dad had a similar relationship with some friends. I had an Aunt Matilda and Uncle Murray, and Beatrice and Jack. They weren’t blood relatives but our families would celebrate holidays and go on trips together, along with my actual aunt and uncle, Sylvia and Jonas. They would all support each other. Jack, who owned a gas station, would help with the car. Murray and Mat, who sold blinds, would help with covering windows. My real uncle, Jonas, would help if there were electrical problems. My Dad, the accountant, would help with financial and tax matters. My Mom, the historian, would fill in the historical context. Etc.

 

And on this past Monday, representatives of all these families and more came or called. After a death, it is truly helpful to realize all that you are grateful for. Mostly, I am grateful for the love, support, companionship, advice—the central presence of my Dad in my life. I am grateful for all the people who were touched by my Dad’s life and who helped us say goodbye to him. I am grateful to my brother and sister-in-law who were so reliable and caring, who had to deal with so many of the arrangements, for the funeral, for my Dad’s hospice care, and all the times they had to rush to his side when I was too far away. I am thankful for my wife, Linda, for her steady wisdom and love and that look she gives me to remind me to focus on what’s most important in life. Thank you to the Rabbi and others who helped with the funeral and the hotel staff who helped with our Celebration of Life afterwards.

 

I could go on and on. I could thank other relatives, friends and neighbors from New York, Virginia, Atlantic City and other parts of New Jersey, California, and Colorado.

 

And for people I know and don’t know, who take the time to care for other people and our world. Who, despite fear of retribution, speak out, take action to oppose the abuse of powerful men, or the greediness and stupidity of this political administration. Without thousands, millions of people speaking up, the economic and other resources of this country will be ripped off by the powerful and the lives of most of us made more difficult, if not oppressive. My Dad opposed such rip offs and so all those who join together to speak out are, in some way, also family.

 

So, thank you. Enjoy the holidays.