This Thanksgiving, my favorite daughter, about whom I’m not allowed to write, is trekking in Nepal. She sent me this picture this morning. She told me about the wonderful people she is meeting and how hard their lives appear to be. The only reason I can post it is that I’m counting on the fact she won’t see it.
It took me back to a memory I’d forgotten. Another Thanksgiving.
When Sarah was seven, it was an especially cold Thanksgiving. My friend, whose daughter was Sarah’s friend, and I decided we would take the children on an adventure on Thanksgiving morning. We put them in my SUV and went to Dunkin’ Donuts, where I bought one hundred cups of coffee, one hundred cups of orange juice, and two hundred doughnuts. We drove down to the Port Authority, where many a homeless person finds shelter when it’s just too damn cold outside.
I asked a police officer to spread the word that we were there to other officers in the Port Authority and ask if anyone would like to have a doughnut and cup of coffee. My friend and I sat in the back seat of the car for two hours while those two seven-year-olds handed out coffee, OJ, and doughnuts.
There was a moment. There always is.
Sarah was helping a man who couldn’t decide between two doughnuts. Here is their conversation as I can best remember it:
“You can take both of them. We have enough — and if we don’t, my mom will go get more.”
“Oh, no — do you see the line behind me? I want to make sure we all get one. Maybe I’ll wait and see if there are any left over at the end. And your mom already did a lot for us.”
I saw her look at him. I watched her take in the message that this man, who had absolutely nothing — including a winter coat (I remember him vividly) — was not going to take more than his fair share.
Seeing Sarah’s picture today reminded me of Thanksgiving and sharing around a table an abundance of all things — especially stuffing, in my case.
And then I thought about our country, and how, as a country, we used to be like that homeless man. We used to know when each of us individually had enough, and when it was time to share with our fellow countrymen. All those working for large corporations had benefits. Health care. Retirement. And the shareholders were fine with returns that had slow growth to help them when they retired rather than wealth through stock at someone else’s expense. We didn’t simply buy the cheapest things; we bought from stores where we knew the purveyors. We waited while they gift wrapped the presents. There was enough for everyone, so on Thanksgiving, most Americans could sit back and be thankful for the opportunity our country provided to all its citizens.
We can go back to that. I believe that the 1 percent that I think has taken over my country for their own personal gain — and dollars in the bank that they couldn’t spend if they tried — will be brought down. And this Thanksgiving, when I say my silent prayer before eating my turkey, I will pledge to do what I can to make sure of it.
God bless my broken country on this Thanksgiving.