Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a no-pressure day; just a time to enjoy those you love and make memories.

This year, Thanksgiving will be different for many. The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent some from traveling, some will not be able to gather because of illness and others will find an empty seat at their table missing those who have been lost. I pray for those families, I pray they have peace and are blessed by wonderful memories of days gone by.

As I look back on my memories of Thanksgiving, it is split between three very special series of my life.

As a child we spent our Thanksgiving celebrations in Rochelle, GA. I was born in Rochelle and we moved away when I was still a baby, but during the years my family lived there, we found a chosen family of Hudsons and Hornes and Conners and Mashburns and Reids and Whittakers, those Thanksgiving dinners would sometimes be 40, 50, 60 or more people. We were a rambunctuous bunch that gathered each year for feast upon feasts and laughter than would carry us for many years to come.

I still look back on those days in Rochelle as some of my favorites. Surrounded by music and catfish ponds and pecan orchards and cow pastures, the days spent in south Georgia during those Thanksgiving celebrations are etched into my memory forever.

When I moved to Florida, I developed my own chosen family. Neighbors and friends that I experienced every aspect of life with. During those years we saw marriages and divorces, new babies, tragedy and joy, but most of all we found laughter.

I will always remember my Florida Thanksgivings as large gatherings of pot-luck dinners and more laughs than I can ever count. When I look back on my life, these days are the fondest, when life was carefree, we were a combined bunch whose lives intersected through business and developed into one large family.

A mix of people who grew together and while now distanced, always a “go to” group that holds a special place in my heart.

While I would love to spend just one more Thanksgiving with our family friends in Rochelle, or my chosen family in Florida, my most beloved holidays are found with my own family.

We aren’t a large group, we never have been, but we are tight-knit and can hold our own on the rambunctuous meter.

Through the years, the seats at our table has changed. We have lost and we have gained, but each person who occupies a seat at our Thanksgiving table holds a special place in my heart.

Like most families, we don’t always see eye to eye, but when the chips are down or the important things in life come up, we are there for each other.

Our Thanksgiving consists of recipes passed down from generation to generation and as we gather, my mind will be drawn to the people who no longer physically sit at the table, but are there in our hearts.

My mother loved Thanksgiving, she cooked for days preparing far too much food, cooking the recipes of her own mother. She cooked with love and she worked hard to make each gathering special.

My daddy enjoyed any day that his boys were all under one roof, surrounded by his grandchildren and his family. He thrived on days like Thanksgiving and made sure to “taste test,” everything that came out of the oven.

My grandparents and my favorite Aunt were often found at our table on Thanksgiving, when we gather this year, I will think back on the memories of my life that they created and remember them fondly.

This year, as I sit with my family for Thanksgiving, I will thank God for each of them. I will give thanks for memories of the past and pray for what is yet to come. I will pray that better days lie ahead and I will give thanks for lessons learned in both hardship and good days, I will also give thanks that each of you have a place in my life and heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, may our lives continue to be enriched by the past and future.

How Divided Are We?

  • I’m not sure how this post is going to go over. But it is a topic I have been thinking about for months. I sincerely believe my viewpoints on this topic are pretty center of the road, but I guess I will find out if I am right or wrong. I don’t discuss politics as it is personal, but I will discuss my belief in our Democracy and the future of our nation, so here goes…..

For many months, we have heard how divided our nation is. How we are entrenched into one side or the other and with an election that just split at almost 50/50 from the outside one would think this is true. But, is it true? Are we as Americans so divided that our commonality is gone?

I contend that “We The People” really aren’t as split as some want to portray us to be. I do however think that we have allowed the fringe of each party to overtake our nation, ensuring that our separations fester.

On one side we have the AOC’s, Bernie Sanders & Nancy Pelosi’s of the world. On the other we have the Mitch McConnell’s, Matt Gaetz’s and Rand Paul’s of the world.

We pit the MSNBC, FOX, AON & CNN viewpoints against each other from the fringe.

But if you think about it, what do these politicians on the fringe and the media all have in common? Money and power.

The media knows these fringe politicians best friend is a TV camera attached to a microphone and can always be counted on for a wacky sound-bite. The media is always willing to give them air-time because it helps further their message, helps hook viewers and makes the media more money.

These politicians know that every time they get in front of a camera it gives them more power, which in turn brings more money into their own coffers.

TV time, fringe politicians, media access and camera time equals money and power. See the problem?

So as I think about some of the issues that supposedly tear us apart, I honestly think that the majority of Americans share much more in common in our beliefs than the media and the fringe politicians want us to believe.

The First Amendment gives us all the right to Free Speech. This Free Speech includes the right to express our opinions through protests; however, does anyone support the rights of people to burn and loot communities or show up at polling locations to intimidate people casting their votes or threatening to kidnap Governors of States that some disagree with? I doubt the majority of Americans agree with any of this, but the fringe from each party digs their heels in, gets in front of sympathetic cameras and makes it seem like we aren’t united in these opinions.

The Second Amendment. Again, I don’t know anyone who wants to take away anyone’s guns. However, if you listen to the political fringes you are going to hear that one side wants to outlaw them and the other side wants us all to have a cache in our homes that can take out a small country. Truth be told, I think most of us believe that we are all entitled to have a gun in our homes, but no one should have the ability to walk into a classroom and shoot up a room full of 2nd graders. Who profits and gains power from this misinformation?

Let’s talk immigration. Every single person reading this is a descendent of immigrants, those immigrants built America. I think we would all agree that the majority of us, are fine with LEGAL immigration. I don’t know anyone who wants to close the borders to everyone, nor do I know anyone who wants to open them up and let anyone and everyone flood into the country, but again, we are separated by the fringe that pits our sensible immigration beliefs from each end of the spectrum.

Have I made my point yet? You see, if We The People were in-power, we would find more commonality than difference. Of course, we would have differences, but I am convinced we would work-out a common ground where we all give a bit and take a bit for solutions that can move us forward.

Where did we lose our power to these fringe extremes, one simple word can sum it up…. apathy. The American people have allowed this division to happen on our watch by not keeping a check on our elected officials and media. I’m old enough to remember when the media and those who represented us in DC could be trusted. Sadly, it seems those days have passed. There’s an old adage, what’s the definition of insanity…. doing the same thing over and over again.

We have allowed insanity to take over our nation in our politics and media. As long as we continue to send the same people back to Washington DC over and over again we will continue to see the same results. And if we continue to support “our” media choice without holding their feet to the fire for truth and not idealology, we are the problem.

America isn’t as divided as some want us to believe. Sure there will always be issues that we will disagree on, but for the most part, we are all on the same side. We want to live in a safe America where every citizen is respected, where we remain a beacon to the world and where the rights of every citizen is honored. We want to be an America that makes life better for the generations to come, where each and every American has the opportunity to surpass the dreams and expectations of those who came before us and where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is available to us all.

I think it’s time that we the people start showing up and letting the fringes know they don’t represent us. We seek common ground with cooperation. It’s time that we the people let the those who want to divide us know that they don’t represent the ideals that built America.

The next time you see, read or hear someone from the fringe, on either side, spewing their hate, think about it. Who gains both financially and in power with those hate filled words? The answer is simple, the ones who benefit are those who gain wealth and power, the media, social media and politicians.

We the people deserve better, but we the people need to take our role back and hold the purveyors of fringe thinking accountable. Vote them out, tune them out and let’s move on as Americans.