I first posted a version of this back in Ott-Eight, a few days after I started this here blog thing, and have edited it, as need be, and reposted it every year, to remind me of where I was then, what I thought then, and what I wanted out of life. And every year as I repost it, I realize that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Now, not to brag, but I've been told that I am an extremely polite person. I was raised on Please and Thank You, Yes Ma'am, No Sir, and I still act that way today.
True story: I was selected for jury duty when we lived in Miami and when it was my turn to be questioned, I stood up in the very narrow aisle and put my hands behind my back. As I was questioned, I replied Yes sir and No Sir. The judge stopped and smiled.
"Are you in the military?" he asked.
"No, sir" I said. "I was raised by a military man and a Southern woman."
True story: A few years before that, while living in California, I was in a grocery store buying a birthday cake for a co-worker. I asked if I may please order a cake. May I please have a name iced onto it? I pleased and thank you'd my way through the entire process and finally the girl left to finish my order. But, just before disappearing, she turned and said, “I think you are the politest person I've ever waited on."
I smiled and said, "Could you just shut up, please, and ice my damn cake!"
When all else fails slip into sarcasm. That's my motto, and I’m thankful for that. But I digress.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, probably because there are no gifts involved, except for the gift of time; time spent with loved ones and friends; the gift of thanks. A day of thanks; a truly American holiday, like 4th of July, but one we celebrate not with picnics and beer, firecrackers and sparklers, but with a meal shared with friends and family, and pets, always the pets.
I have so much to be thankful for again this year. Yes, the usual family and friends and health and happiness, blah blah blah, everyone says that. But I am also thankful, in some ways, that we are an America that has changed so much this year and, fingers crossed, an America trying to find its way out of the darkness we’ve felt for a while now.
It looks bleak; hell, it feels bleak, but people will do better when they know better. You just have to stand up and demand better from those we elect. As a gay man I know all too well that … cue PSA music … It Gets Better.
Sure, I’m still free and a little more equal than I was a few years back, though there are still some that would like to see that change, but I am sensing more hope than last year; more standing up for ourselves and others, when we see others being abused and mistreated. And it feels like the pendulum may be swinging back towards understanding and acceptance, and the hope that we had for a few years. I am thankful for that.
Eighteen years ago, when we began this ride, Carlos and I couldn’t be legally married anywhere in America, and here we are now, married for five years … in South Carolina … and every single state in this country. I am still thankful for that. And let me be clear … even with the Hate Speech coming from all over this country, and sadly, in our own White House, they will never be able to take that away from us; we are husband and husband and that’s how it will stay. That bell cannot be unrung, no matter who says what.
I am thankful for the years I had with my sister—I miss her every single day—because of the things she taught me and continues to teach me. I am grateful to her four daughters, all of whom she raised so well that when Carlos and I told them we were getting married, they all responded, “Now he really is our Uncle.”
I am thankful for my Dad. He didn’t ask for a gay son, but he got one; he didn’t know what to do with a gay son, but he did the best he could. And, when the time came to marry Carlos, it made my Dad’s day that he could be there. I wish every gay person could have a Dad like mine, who sees that change is good, and sees that not everyone is alike—even in your own family—but who loves you just the same. I still get goosebumps when I hear my Dad tell people and his son and his husband. Who knew that would happen?
I am thankful to my Mom, especially today. Thanksgiving was her holiday; cooking for her family was my mother’s greatest joy and a great gift to all of us. I am thankful that I can keep that tradition alive and can see my Mom in myself as Carlos and I cook dinner for friends. I am thankful for her kindness, even to those who were unkind to her; I am grateful for her laughter, which I can still hear in my head, and the way she would say, ‘Bye bye, sweetie, I love you,’ as we ended a phone call.
I am thankful for cold mornings and blue skies … colored leaves falling. I am thankful for small dogs and cats because, well, I'm bigger than them and I will always beat them ... just channeling a little Joan Crawford and Christina at the pool.
I am thankful for Carlos. Every.Single.Day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to have him; even the days when he makes me insane … more insane … I realize I’d rather be driven nuts by him than not to have him in my life at all. I am thankful for the smirk he gives me; I am thankful for the look of horror on his face when I bust out a showtune; I am just plain thankful. I don’t know where I’d be, or who I’d be, if I hadn’t met him all those years ago.
I am thankful for music and pets and soft blankets and breathing and speaking, and having a voice to use, and use often. I realize we are still facing a tough time in this country, where fear is being used to urge hate towards refugees fleeing their homeland … fear of our transgender brothers and sisters … fear of immigrants … in a land filled with, and built by, immigrants.
I am hopeful, and thankful, that this country will once again stand against hate and divisiveness; that we stand for one another and not against one another; that we will stand up to those who hate; speak out against those who use fear to intimidate others; resist those who are untruthful. I am thankful that more and more people are standing up for those who may not feel like anyone would ever stand for them.
I am thankful for that … and thinking being feeling loving breathing laughing crying living and speaking.
For Life … and all it encompasses.