Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude on Thanksiving

I have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television in the background while I finish making an incredibly indulgent sweet potato dish. I'm listening to the commentary, the huckstering of the products and promoting of television's rising stars and all the rest that the parade is designed to promote.

I'm especially hearing a tonal quality that is retro in nature. Going back to simpler times when life looked glossy and happy in the United States. The comfort, color and cheerful messages give us the feeling that dreams really can come true. I'm just waiting for a rainbow to holographically manifest over a giant inflatable Disney character to finish the procession. I'm both captivated by the cotton candy effect of the production and warily aware of what it covers up. Still....

As the NBC crew broke to commercials, my attention was drawn to a Folgers Coffee ad. I have no idea why. It was about as sentimental as one could imagine - a young man returning home from some duty in West Africa, his sister waiting up all night and brewing him a cup of joe upon his walking through the front door at sunrise. Mom running downstairs into his arms with dad in tow. And I started crying. Sentimental tears against a background both of how beautiful mankind truly is, and how we are starting to find a bit of our humanity again because of suffering that has finally hit our own behemoth landmass. People are having to do without in large numbers now. And, their community members are supporting those without in many ways. Here's one example:

Along with the parade are break-ins to local programming in which our closest city, Sacramento, Ca., has helicopters hovering above a beautiful spectacle. I saw the images before I heard the commentary and I thought what I was seeing was in NYC as an adjunct to the parade. No, our middle-class city had 30,000 people suited up in running gear at 8:00 a.m. ready to put shoes to the road to fill the local foodbanks. As of airtime they had raised over $800,000 to feed those without food for the holiday or any other day. This is meaningful as our food bank here in our small rural town outside of Sacramento is empty as are many others. The site made me cry again. People are trying. We may be a bit self indulgent and slow on the uptake sometimes, but most of us do care what happens to those suffering.

I am constantly perplexed and in awe at us humans. We can be so switched off and self absorbed one moment and, once our attention is drawn to something or someone in need, we jump in to do our part to help. So many beautiful and generous hearts.

Thank all of you whose heart still responds to your fellow human being. Even if it takes a holiday dedicated to gratitude, I can feel that our hearts ARE still open. It wasn't the Folgers Coffe ad that made me cry, it was all of us - you, me, us.

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