It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States, its territories, and in every country where ex-pats who celebrate the day, live.
I plan to spend the holiday with family members, a jovial group that, thanks to marriage equality, has expanded these past few years. My sister will be with us for only the second time in the twenty-plus years that she’s lived in England. Sadly, my Mom won’t be here with us. We experienced our final Thanksgiving togetherness last year.
This blog is a short one because many of us are busy rushing through our pre-TDay chores as speedily as the official White House turkey is searching for shelter. S/He’s running hither and yon, engaged in a real life game of hide-and-seek because s/he believes the barnyard gossip regarding the current President. Rumor has it that unlike former Presidents who have spared this turkey’s antecedents by granting them pardons at the last minute, this particular Potus does intend to behead and then devour the chosen bird.
While I’m not going to bore you with my list of people, events, and circumstances for which I am grateful, I do want to mention the election that was held in Pennsylvania this past November 7th. My spouse and I work at our local polling place. The Polls open at 7:00 A.M., but our day begins half an hour earlier when we arrive laden with a huge Dunkin’ Donuts cardboard box filled with hot coffee and two flats of donuts. Mind you, one of the other poll workers always bakes a tray of sticky buns. This year he added a homemade cheesecake to his Election Day catering menu. I know, I know. The near-toxic load of carbs and sugar probably makes a thirteen hour work day seem as long as a week.
The Polls close at 8:00 P.M. By the time the two or three voting machines’ tapes are printed and the absentee ballots have been tallied, our eyes can barely focus.
In November, 2016 we returned home in an ebullient mood. Eighty-five percent of the registered voters in our ward came out to cast their vote, and the majority voted for Hillary!
Within thirty minutes of returning home, our spirits crashed. We were stunned speechless as we watched state after state depicted on CNN’s electronic map turn an ominous shade of red.
Between 2016’s Thanksgiving and today, many of us have gnashed our teeth, shaken our heads, felt vulnerable and fearful, compared the political climate of our country to that of Germany in the 1930’s, and questioned the true meaning of sanity.
It has occurred to me that on a good day I no longer recognize the U.S. and many of its citizens. On a bad day I do recognize America, especially when I recall the hate-strewn episodes in our country’s history, the episodes that have always affected my life in one way or another.
But on to a happier note… I’m pleased to report that during this last election the voters of our township (Plymouth) and county (Montgomery) expressed their intolerance of the nationalistic alt-right rhetoric and acts that regularly bubble up to the surface and fester like malignant cancer cells implanted in our nation’s body by the Bannon-inspired, Russia-assisted, developmentally delayed, self-involved child seated at the Executive desk in the Oval Office. There is hope. Sanity prevails in the minds of many people. Fairness to every citizen, equality for all, and fealty to the U.S. Constitution are still the values held by many Americans.
It’s Thanksgiving, my friends.
I hope those of us who celebrate this day take a moment between forkfuls of turkey/tofu turkey, mashed potatoes (white and yams,) quinoa casserole, and green beans (seasoned with ham or not,) and acknowledge the lives of the First Americans. I hope we take the time to recite our lists of the people and circumstances for which we give thanks, and I hope we’ll be surprised to discover just how long our lists are.
Renée Bess contributes a once-a-month blog to Women and Words. She is the author of five novels published by Regal Crest Enterprises, and the co-story collector (with Lee Lynch) of the anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS, Flashpoint Publications. All proceeds from OUR HAPPY HOURS…will be donated to the Attic Youth Center, in Philadelphia and the Ali Forney Center in New York City, two agencies that provide social services to LGBTQI young people.