Happy Thanksgiving! When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a simpler observance. Yes, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was standard, as was football, and family gatherings, but the rush to start holiday shopping on “Black Friday” was years away. In fact, in those simpler days, stores were closed, including grocery stores, so no dashing out to find a forgotten ingredient for dinner. One thing hasn’t changed, though: every year in school, we had to participate in an exercise about what we were thankful for in our lives. I always disliked that session, since it seemed very intrusive on personal feelings, especially for a shy girl. But I persevered, and was facetiously thankful when the teacher didn’t call on me!
Decades later, of course, the breadth of one’s personal and professional experiences make the “thankful” list much broader. The introspection still is there, but philosophy and reality combine to prompt sharing more than the usual “thankful for family, friends, health, etc.” So, if that same nun asked the question today, the response would be more focused and much broader, along with some items that might not appear on a traditional list.
- Thankful that we live in Fairfax County, with an outstanding school system, safe communities, caring neighbors, a thriving economy, and endless opportunities.
- Thankful for our diverse faith communities and non-profit organizations, who team up together to provide assistance to lower income residents in times of need. Food pantries, health clinics, rental assistance, and pastoral counseling help augment what local governments can provide. We couldn’t do all we do in Fairfax County without these partnerships.
- The COVID pandemic forced many local food pantries to pivot and expand their services. Food distributions by ACCA, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, Columbia Baptist Church, and many others have made the difference between having nutritious food or going hungry for countless families. The need is year-round, not just during the holidays, so donations of non-perishable foods or cash are always welcome.
- Thankful for the Culmore Clinic, county health clinics, and partnerships with INOVA and other health organizations that provide access to healthcare for those who otherwise cannot afford it. The assistance is welcomed, but much more is needed to address the health care disparities, especially for mental and behavioral health, here and around the nation.
- Thankful that One Fairfax, adopted by the Board of Supervisors, provides a framework for decision-making, considering diversity, equity, and inclusion, as we move into the future. One Fairfax will not correct the ills of the past, but will provide greater intentionality for decision-makers, and a better future for our diverse and growing community.
- Thankful that democracy didn’t die on Election Day 2022. The nation still is divided almost in half, politically, but the rejection of election deniers, Trump-supported candidates, and restriction of basic human rights resounded through federal and state halls. The battle for democracy this fall was won, perhaps, but there will be many more battles ahead.
- Thankful that Nick Benton and the Falls Church News Press has provided me the opportunity to share so many thoughts for so many years via this column.
May you, your family, and friends, enjoy the blessings of this Thanksgiving, and many more.