Not a day passes that I do not feel thankful for my good life. We live in troubling times; but in the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks, “we should start every day with gratitude for the blessings we enjoy.”
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. In the past, my in-laws hosted Passover. My parents, especially my mother, took great joy in doing Christmas. Thanksgiving, however, was all mine.
The first year I cooked for family and friends, the mashed potatoes were lumpy and the turkey was dry. Everything took longer to do than anticipated. Many people sat on pillows on the floor in our one-bedroom apartment, but no one seemed to mind any of this.
Over the years, the potatoes got smoother and the turkey improved (but to be honest, it still was always too dry). I learned to make the pies and other make-ahead dishes the day before. In our new house, there were plenty seats to go around, and nobody had to sit on the floor. Although the core group evolved over the years, I continued to feel thankful for good friends and family.
The day after Thanksgiving, my young daughters and I joined friends downtown to visit the kittens and puppies in the windows at Macy’s, ready for adoption through the SPCA. We enjoyed the magic of holiday decorations, and started our holiday shopping. It was a tiring, hard-working holiday weekend. Perhaps I did not enjoy it as much in the moment as I do now in hindsight.
The ills of today’s world are widespread and have become more prevalent in our lives, thanks to the constant flood of media. War, floods and fires, and food insecurity are widespread throughout the world. Job insecurity and homelessness are real here at home, not just in some far away country. Internal political divisions have reached critical levels, and cause stress and anxiety, even within our own seemingly secure bubbles.
Life has been good to my generation of boomers. The Great Depression and two World Wars were over. Fathers like mine returned from their temporary military status to build new lives and prosperity, start families, aspire to a comfortable standard of living.
But the future must have seemed uncertain at the time to the Greatest Generation. No one talked about the war. They did not dwell on the past but rather, looked to the future.
I feel thankful to be with my family, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren this year for Thanksgiving. It is cool in New York at this time of year, but my role as sous-chef and Grammy to three warms me. It is my hope that the future will continue to look up, that world leaders will see the wisdom of avoiding war and nurturing the planet and its people. And, that each of us will do our part to make this world a good one for generations to come. And that we all feel thankful for the blessings we enjoy.