Our Way of Life
Honestly, isn’t that what this particular holiday is really about? Our nearly four-hundred-year-old celebration of a trans-atlantic voyage to start a new life? It’s the ultimate immigrants’ story, the ultimate pioneers’ story. And not by sheer coincidence, it’s still what we’re all about these days. Protecting, defending, and preserving the life that we fought so hard to build for ourselves. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to peaceably assemble, etc. etc. You might also want to throw in electricity, hot and cold running water, and food and shelter, as well. Four hundred years later, things that are definitely still worth fighting for. And worth fighting about, too. But then, that’s what it means to be a true democracy. Something for which we should also be eternally grateful.
Our Men and Women in Uniform
When I say “men and women in uniform,” I am most definitely referring to the bravest of the brave who serve on the edge of danger – Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere – to defend the very freedoms described above. But in all honesty, ought we not to consider our local servicemen and women in the same manner? Cops, firefighters, paramedics, etc., who put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis, never questioning their duties or their roles – and oftentimes going above and beyond the call. Seems to me, might be worthwhile to send a little gratitude their way these days, no? Because while the rest of us are starting to gear up for the holidays, do these men and women ever really get one?
Our Everyday Heroes
Then again, what about the people who don’t always seem to get that kind of attention or adulation? The ones who can somehow make the ordinary extra-ordinary, especially when we need it most. They’re everywhere, if you’re paying attention. Maybe it’s your favorite waitress, as ready with a compliment as she is with another cup. Could be your FedEx guy, or your UPS guy, or maybe even the energetic guy at the little bodega where you always get your morning paper. Even better, especially this time of year – maybe it’s your school’s crossing guard, who’s entrusted, rain or shine, with the safety of your most prized possessions, your children. Guess what, people, there’s no better time to tell them they’re appreciated. And trust us on this, I think they’ll definitely appreciate it if you do.
Far too many of us are having a tough time with this these days, and the notion of livelihoods, while it doesn’t necessarily mean “jobs” per se (and in some cases might actually mean more than one!) definitely means whatever it takes for us to get by. Folks, it’s a cruel world out there, but what choice do we have but to hang in there, do whatever we can to muddle through somehow. There’s just got to be sunlight on the other end, right? So whatever it is that helps you hang on, whatever it is that’s helping you get through this… that’s where you ought to be directing your gratitude, no?
Our Talents, Our Gifts
We may not think so at times, but the fact of the matter is, we’ve all got ‘em. Never enough of them probably, and sometimes not exactly the ones we want or need. But, you betcha, everybody’s got something special about them. Something special probably only their Creator and their Moms ever really understand. The cheesy tree-hugging expression is “Find Your Bliss” – but there’s a lot to be said for that. Because when you like doing something, no matter what age you are, you’re good at it. And when you’re good at it, you like doing it. And vice-versa. And vice-versa again. The trick? Finding out just exactly what that thing might be. (And by the way, holiday time’s usually a really good time to reflect on that, hint hint.)
Just can’t all be work, work, work, can it? There’s gotta be more, wouldn’t you say? Well that’s where our passions come in – whether they be sports, travel, quilting, painting, even meticulous collecting of exquisite World War I military figurines. When the whole world is telling us what we have to do, what we should do, what our obligations are, our responsibilities, etc. it’s nice to know that there are a few endeavors we prize more than others, and that we’re pursuing them ardently because we want to!
Whitney Houston sure knew what she was talking about when she sang, “I believe that children are our future.” Isn’t that what it’s all about for us, on a daily basis? What are we all working so hard for, if not to leave the world a better place for our children? This time of year especially, we’re reminded that seeing the world through a child’s eyes means seeing the world as we probably all ought to – each day a minor miracle, filled with wonder and discovery and learning and growth. And there’s definitely something to be said for the ability to get down on your hands and knees, and crawl around on the floor with them – see what they see, touch what they touch. In fact, I’d urge each and every one of you to try it at least once this holiday season! Because as soon as that’s no longer an option – hey, we sure do miss it, don’t we?
Not sure if Thomas Wolfe was 100% correct on this, because you know what, folks… you can go home again. Parents, grandparents, children, husbands and wives… there may be no better unit by which we measure what’s truly important, the whys and wherefores of why we’re here, why we strive, what we’re about. Within the family unit, there’s sustenance, compassion, understanding,forgiveness, resilience, forbearance – all of the intangibles that the world seems to conspire against in an effort to make us believe that they’re no longer possible. But if that were really the case, then we just wouldn’t have timeless sayings like “Home is where the heart is...” or “Charity begins at home...” or “There’s no place like home...”
Okay, so maybe there are times when your family just doesn’t understand. Who do you turn to, then? C’mon, I think you know... your friends! The ones who always see the best in you, the ones who always root for your success. The ones who are always there for you when the chips are down. And the first ones you want to celebrate with when things are going great. They’re the ones who always help you move out – or in. The ones who give you that much-needed ride to the airport. Maybe it’s that guy you went to medical school with. Or your former teammate on the Girls’ Volleyball team. That office mate from your first real job. The kid who lived around the corner from you. Whoever it is, ignore that notion that Michael Corleone was trying to put out there. It’s not your enemies you keep closer… it’s your friends.
Speaking of giving thanks, the time to do so is starting to run short, so I wanted to make sure to thank you dear readers for your feedback, comments, suggestions, etc. these many years. Writing like this means nothing without you on the other side, so I hereby tip my cap to you all, because in the end it’s you, too, who should consider yourselves the best of the best. I know I definitely do. Best wishes, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all!