I love Thanksgiving Day. There’s no pressure to give gifts; only the expectation that we’ll overeat and, perhaps, the chance we’ll over drink.
I’m thankful for so much today. We all have our struggles, even those in the 1 percent. But those struggles make us better people if we overcome or learn to cope with them. I’m thankful that, so far, we can overcome and cope.
Even as I’m thankful, though, and blessed beyond deserving, I’m not thankful for everything. I’m thankful for deviled eggs. I am not thankful for squash casserole.
I’m not thankful with what has happened to our state and nation. I’m not thankful that we have a president who is insulting and incompetent, and for his followers who are making terrible behavior the norm. I’m not thankful that the president is cruel and unusual, or that he ignores science, that he works hard to divide us, that he has no compassion for anything or anybody but himself. I’m not thankful for that.
I’m not thankful that our state’s leaders believe prison reform means building more prisons. That the state’s mentally ill should be ignored. That too many of our leaders are just pro-birth, not truly pro-life. That our state tilts at windmills, even as the windmills are not even there. We have met our enemy, and he is us.
We see that no better than during elections, when 60 percent or more of our voters simply choose to vote a straight ticket. I am thankful we are free to vote for whom we want, but I’m not thankful for straight-ticket voting. That’s lazy voting, plain and simple. Better not to vote than to vote a straight ticket.
As we approach an election year, I am thankful that we have good choices. I am not thankful for candidates who blindly support a criminal-in-chief. Right, Jeff Sessions? Right, Bradley Byrne? Right, Tommy Tuberville? Right, John Merrill? Right, Mo Brooks, Bob Aderholt, Mike Rogers, Gary Palmer? Right, Richard Shelby? Right Gov. Kay Ivey, who also supported child molester Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate. I definitely am not thankful for them.
I am so thankful for my wife, Veronica, who I’ll be married to for 40 years in February. I’m very thankful for Veronica, because I’d be lost without her. And I’m thankful for our dogs, mostly pugs. We’ve lost four of them since last Thanksgiving. I’m not thankful for that, but I am thankful for the unconditional love they gave us while they were here.
I’m thankful for my true family – our “daughter” Nicole, who picked us, and her wife, Sara Kate, who picked us, too. I’m not thankful for those hateful, intolerant, close-minded people, though, who believe our daughter is something less because she’s gay. She is so, so much more than they are, or ever will be, and I’m thankful for that as well.
I’m thankful for our close friends who chose us to be part of their families. For their spirit, intelligence, grace, and compassion. I’m not thankful for people who turn their heads away from a homeless man, or a hungry child, or a hurting animal. I’m not thankful for them. I am thankful I’m not one of them.
I’m certainly not thankful for Internet trolls, who attack the person because they don’t know how to argue with the person’s ideas. I amthankful for the people who disagree with my views and manage to educate me with their ideas in the process, or those who tell me that they understand my perspective, even as they disagree.
I am thankful to live in the world’s most prosperous and free nation, but not thankful that so many of us can’t afford adequate health insurance or necessary prescription medicines.
I am thankful that I had the privilege to know Lauren Beck, my great niece. I am thankful for what this 14-year-old taught me about living well. I am not thankful that Lauren is gone now, her life stolen by brain cancer.
I am sincerely thankful for so much. I’m sincerely not thankful for quite a lot, too.
Today, I remember both, understanding that is part of life. I’m very thankful for life.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]