Thanksgiving is a time for getting together with friends and family to celebrate all the good things that have happened in the past year. It is also a time to try to bridge our differences and lift each other up. As those of us with plenty sit down together for dinner let us not forget many in the world aren’t so fortunate and think what we can do to make their lives better.
Since Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, many families have found bridging their differences more difficult. It is amazing to see how the election of the congenital liar and certifiable despot currently residing in the White House has poisoned so many relationships between family and among friends.
Trump — through his actions and statements — has given implicit permission for some Americans to once again give public voice to their sexism, homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. We cannot pretend those feelings weren’t always there but we had reached a point in American society where people understood you couldn’t voice them in public without rebuke.
It will take many years to put that genie back in the bottle but we need to try if we are ever to begin moving forward again. Some will feel a little better this Thanksgiving because in their view the midterm elections proved there are many decent people in our country who voted and said in no uncertain terms to our president, “Your vision for our nation is not one we share.” That is something we can give thanks for around the Thanksgiving table.
Thanksgiving should also be a time to look within ourselves and determine who we are as individuals and what we can do to make life better not only for ourselves and our families but for others here in the United States and around the world. A time for those of us with privilege to help lift up others around us who may not be as fortunate. To stop the castigation of those participating in the caravan approaching the United States. Stop calling them an invading force and instead understand they are simply looking for a better life for themselves and their families.
Take a moment to think about what you could do to help feed the hungry, house the homeless, and give equal opportunity to everyone who wants to work hard and raise themselves and their family up. A moment of thought to how we change the policies causing institutional racism to give everyone a chance to succeed. A moment to think about how we open up the eyes of the world to understand homophobia and sexism hurt everyone and not just the LGBTQ+ community and women?
We need to heal the rifts among family and friends and make the effort to try and see each other in a more positive light. To see what is good in each other and what brings us together rather than only focusing on what separates us. If we begin to do that around the Thanksgiving table with those closest to us we might just have a fighting chance to do it with others.
Personally I recognize my life of privilege having just returned from a 13-day transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian EPIC that embarked from Barcelona, Spain and arrived Saturday in Port Canaveral, Fla. My Thanksgiving weekend will be spent with friends in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and we will definitely exchange stories from our trips this past year. Talk will turn to the Christmas season fast approaching as Friday of Thanksgiving weekend is when Rehoboth Beach lights their community Christmas tree. So surely discussion will also turn to what that season means to each of us. For me, among other things, it means planning on charitable donations to causes I believe in. If that isn’t possible for you, then think about finding somewhere you can donate time.
I know the discussion at the table where I am having dinner will also turn to politics and who each of us is thinking of supporting for president in 2020. I have not made that choice yet but will wait and look around to see who finally throws their hat into the ring. Looks like Democrats will have many choices, some real and some whose ego just gets the better of them.
So wishing all my friends and those of you who aren’t friends yet, a very happy Thanksgiving. May this holiday find you happy, healthy and sharing time with friends and loved ones.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.