Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope your day has started off nice and already the smells of food and warmth of family and friends is enveloping your home.
I think I mentioned in another thread somewhere that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and while other countries may now celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving, to me it remains a uniquely American Holiday.
After the jump, what Thanksgiving means to me
For me, Thanksgiving speaks to what we perceive as our place in the world and the fact we're blessed by providence to be a part of this incredible messy experiment called America. In this big crazy, growingly diverse and divisive country, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we're all almost doing about the same thing. Whether you're in Portland, Maine or Portland Oregon... Santa Fe, New Mexico or Santa Clara California... Miami, Ohio or Miami, Florida...for the most part we're all pretty much sharing a common experience; gathering with friends and family... almost all of us having the same core meal: turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes and gravy, corn, cranberry sauce... and in that wonderfully American melting pot way, in so many homes that core meal is complemented with what we bring from our homelands. Be it lumpia from the Philipines, tamales from Mexico, strudel from Germany, nsima from Malawi, Swedish Meatballs ...
But it doesn't just stop at our border. We also tend to take Thanksgiving with us no matter where we're living in the world. This is how I spent Thanksgiving in Malawi when I lived there, it's not quite the traditional Thanksgiving dinner but it was great none-the-less.
Celebrating Thanksgiving Dinner at Malawi Children's Village, Malawi, Africa, 2001
But we also know that the holidays can be a very tough time for people. A dear and good friend took his life last week. Tom lived his life to the fullest, never missing an opportunity to experience something new or to help others along the way. While he didn't go to Cal he was one of the many many people at each game who had adopted Cal as his team.
(Tom Twietmeyer, 1962-2011, celebrating the A's twentieth win in a row at the Oakland Coliseum, 2002)
We had his memorial on Sunday and it was a joyous celebration of his life. But, coming at this time of the year as it did, it really reminded me that the very reasons that make Thanksgiving and the holidays so wonderful, is what can make them so hard for so many people. People who don't have families or strong friend networks. People who feel they don't have a lot to be thankful for. Maybe they're going through relationship problems. Maybe they have lost their jobs. There are so many reasons that life can be very very hard, and it can seem desperately lonely... especially in these very trying times.
One of the absolute wonderful things about Americans,particularly during the holidays and on Thanksgiving is how much they enjoy, almost need, opening their homes to "Thanksgiving Orphans." And this year more than ever in recent memory more people need that. And though you're likely reading this Thanksgiving morning, it's not too late. If you know someone who may be alone, or someone who may be hurting, someone who may have experienced job loss or loss of a loved one... it's not too late to reach out to that person. Invite them over and don't take an embarrassed no for an answer... Tell them Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without them. Go get them if you have to. Maybe they're far away and you can just take a few moments to call and tell them you love then and just let them know they are being thought of and that they are missed. Tell them how thankful you are they are in your life. If there are family members for whatever reason you haven't talk to in months or years, what better time to reach out to them.
While 2011 hasn't been the greatest year for me, I have so much for which to be thankful. I have wonderful friends who I admittedly don't see enough... Some of which with whom, in lieu of family, I will be spending this holiday. I have made new friends already on this site. Last Saturday at the Big Game I was invited to a tailgate party by some friends I had not seen in over a decade. Yeah yeah yeah, they're Stanford folks, but they're great people and it reinforced that something as silly as a football rivalry can be a great reason to reconnect. I know we don't celebrate these sort of things on this site, but I love this photo because, to me, it's not only what the Big Game is about, it's what life is about. Celebrating our differences and embracing each other with a passion and zest for life.
via Ken Montgomery with Lauren Ames (L) and Paige O'Neill (R), Big Game 2011.
As I close this DBD, the Christmas music is now out in full force. There's a song from "White Christmas" that I think really speaks to this, so I'd like to quote it here.
Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep (via jryersonsmith)
"When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings, instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings."
"When my bank roll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all,
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings."
I just love that sentiment. So, this is sort of a deep DBD, but I just want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! And while I know I can drive you nuts, thank you for letting me be a part of your online family. Let's all count our many blessing and say thanks.