Like many of you, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Being a literal person, Thanksgiving is a time and an opportunity to give thanks for the many things in our lives that we are truly thankful for and blessed with. The people, the opportunities, the occasions, the events, the connections, and sometimes just being alive. Oh sure, we have our challenges, and there is no question that those of us that live our lives out loud have been challenged more than we thought we would be this time of the year. Many of us were and still are profoundly disappointed by the election results and many of the issues that continue to drive us to be better activists and better people.
But today, I am taking a pause from the influences in my life that fuel that segment of my life that burns for equality for all people. I am taking a pause from the issues and confinement that we experience because of an ideology, both politically and in some cases spiritually, that has come to rest at our doorsteps. As a nation we are in a great transition and it feels downright uncomfortable sometimes, right? I feel it and you feel it, too, but on this Thanksgiving Day, like many in my past, I am giving pause to just be free from issues and concentrate and bask in the loving arms of my family, whom I adore more than any words could express.
In a few short hours I will travel to my sisters house where my entire family will gather to celebrate this great day. We are all blessed to be wonderful cooks and we share the joy of preparing the meal that signifies and celebrates our love for each other and the joy we have just being together. I often brag that the only drama we have when we gather is not whether or not we will laugh, but how often we will laugh. Chances are we will sing, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, and even gossip a bit.
As we have grown to adulthood, like any other family, some of our dearest family members are no longer with us; some get tugged into in-law visits, or split time between families, but for the most part Thanksgiving Day for me is the same experience, with mostly the same people every year, and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I pray that your experience is equal to mine.
Our experience begins with appetizers. My sister Ann Marie will make her amazing cream cheese stuffed mushrooms. I will make a Brie Wheel, slightly warmed and smothered in apricot and orange marmalade with hot pepper seeds that I will bring to a boil and then dump on top. It is the best of many taste experiences. This year I am also doing panko-battered goat cheese, pan-fried golden brown. My sister Tina is bringing the family traditional meat stuffing (which I cannot give a recipe for) and she is also making a turkey breast to ensure we have leftovers. My sister Marion makes two turkeys, as well, and a bread stuffing that I could eat three meals a day. She also makes a seven-layer salad that my kids can’t wait to eat. My wife makes, from scratch, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie and blue berry pie, or sometimes cherry. There is more, but the feast we experience is not just about eating. In fact, it is less about that than the communal interaction we share. Although the food never disappoints, it is the conversation and camaraderie that is the ingredient that enhances the entire experience. It is a day that I never want to end. We also have another tradition where we take many of the leftovers and package them into turkey potpies. There is an assembly line and it is quick work, but the spirit of that day goes home with each of us and it is impossible not to eat one of those potpies without thinking of Thanksgiving Day and my beautiful family.
There is also a part of the day that does change each year. Again, like all of us, twelve months brings change in all of our lives. We experience the highs and lows that all people have to endure. We mark this day with memories of trials and triumphs. We remember the people who we have lost and some that we have found. We remind ourselves of the great fortune we have in one another, and we do! The connection my sisters and I share is unusually beautiful. We are more than family: we are friends. We confide in one another. We lean on one another. We laugh together and we cry together. We offer advice and we gently help each other through tough decisions and occasional challenges. And the best part, for me anyway, is we never, ever give up on each other. Listen, we are not perfect, and there are times where we get on each others nerves or disagree with what one of us does. But we always know we have a path to find each other again, and we do.
There is another component of this day that I need to share with you as well, mostly because it involves all of you. This past year has tested me in many ways. I have faced great challenges, experienced devastating defeats, lost my way, and I am still exploring what the future holds. As a serial entrepreneur I have always lived life on the edge, and that is not always the safest place to be. I have had profound failures in the last twelve months and have found too many dead ends. Like so many of you I invested a massive amount of time in the past election cycle and, between being a candidate for the state House and a surrogate for a few campaigns, I was so engrossed in the process and hopeful for victory that, when the votes were counted and the running was done, I was devastated when we lost, and we lost big. Maybe I was in denial or maybe I just didn’t realize how apathetic the voting public was, but when faced with the reality of the election results, both my personal results and the general election results, I was buried in disbelief and confused.
I began to ask myself, how do I move on from this massive disappointment? How do I process this and not let it drive me into a deep depression? How do I continue to stay positive when all indicators left me little choice to be optimistic? I found my answer in all of you. I found my answer in my Eclectablog family. In my Facebook family. In my Twitter family. And, in the people whom I have met along the way that truly care about me and allow me to care about them, and that is a gift that keeps on giving. I am a better person because of all of you and I do give thanks that you have come into my life. I also know without a trace of fear of being wrong that as long as we stay together we can and will be the change we want to be. I really do believe that and on this Thanksgiving Day I am blessed that you are in my life and I thank you for allowing me into yours. I mean that sincerely and I honor that gift above all others.
I pray you all have a beautiful day today and that your family and friends are close enough to you today to thank them for what they do for you. But by chance you find yourself alone today. Or in a situation that is less than good, remember that there is someone that does love you. Remember that twelve months from now your story can be better, if you seek change. Take control of your life so that you can, a year from now, look forward knowing there is something better waiting for you and lean on those you can trust. Nothing changes until YOU change and I believe in you 100%.
With love, respect, and honor, let me thank you one more time for your faith and trust in me. It fills me with great desire to achieve. Thank you for being there and thank you most of all for thinking of others and how this world can be a better place if we decide we want it bad enough, and we do, don’t we? Now, take your pause today, recharge, remember and reengage. It’s time to win, thankfully!