It seems that I have penned a special Thanksgiving holiday note since the inception of this blog; but, somehow, I missed last year. My diaries are currently in storage, and my memory is not up to the task of going back a whole 365 days. What the devil was I doing last year? So, now the pressure is on to be particularly memorable this year…
In reviewing what I wrote in previous years, I seem to always say that the country is in a perilous state, that things seem particularly dire this year, and that I don’t know how we’ll overcome it all. But, it’s our responsibility to be happy, to be thankful, and to fully realize the quiet miracle of our lives every day.
Not doing that this year, and here’s why.
News flash: we are always on the brink and things are always trending to disaster. I’ll be jiggered if I’m going to haul that hoo-haw out again this year, because I think pointing out the negatives in our lives doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. So, yeah, things are terrible, it seems no one is happy with the election (even the winner), and the world as we know it is changing so fast, no one knows what to hold onto. It was much the same last year and will be much the same next year. Been there, wrote that.
Instead, I’m going to tell you what I’m happy about.
I’m happy to be an American, and delighted to now be a Californian. We may not always be satisfied with the way our government and institutions work, but they do work and that is more than can be said of many countries. The sunny little beach town I now call home after more than four decades in Gotham has reminded me again and again of the simple decency of most people, of forgotten arts of friendliness and neighborliness I had lost in the Big City, and demonstrated that nature has the upper-hand on us, and not the other way around. I am surrounded by good people, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am happy that I continue to be moved by beauty. The dangerous thing about spending too much time with people who make a career of the arts is that one can stop feeling an emotional response to them. I am delighted to say that I still gulp before masterful paintings, am still heady after great novels, and can laugh or cry at music. (My taste tends to run towards the Great American Songbook, which always puts me in mind of Noel Coward’s wonderful putdown: Strange how potent cheap music is.) I am delighted that this blog has everything from Michelangelo to Charles Schulz, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Finally, I’m glad to have faith in America and Americans. Patriotism was never popular among most of my friends; any positive sentiments towards the country are mostly met with ironic dismissal or sneering condescension. (A gift from the 1960s.) But I think we are a great people, or, at least, we try to be. I don’t know the future of our land any more than you, but I do know that Americans are capable of great things, great kindness, and unity. That last quality – unity – has been in fairly short supply in recent years, but I think it will make a remarkable resurgence in the months and years to come. We can but hope, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This Thanksgiving, make it a point to greet your family, friends and neighbors as people, and not as units of some political philosophy. Love and nurture each other, and remember to be kind and ethical. And, finally, remember to be thankful. Thanks for the many blessings in your life, the bounty of the world around you, and for the quiet, ineffable mystery of your own existence.