Unfortunately for many, this year Thanksgiving happened to fall only two weeks succeeding what was perhaps the most grueling and divisive elections our country has seen in recent history. I know I am not alone in my despondence regarding its outcome, for millions of others are experiencing similar feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about our country’s future.
Having fallen asleep with the television on mute the night of the election, in the early hours of November 9th I was awoken by a glowing screen smeared with red. The map displaying the live election results had been slashed diagonally from Idaho to Florida and was now profusely bleeding a deep shade of crimson. Donald Trump was leading in electoral votes and his win was imminent. Eyes stinging with tears, I fell back asleep that night with revulsion, anger and absolute despair festering in my gut.
Two weeks later, I can’t say these feelings have subsided. In times of such disheartenment it can be difficult to reflect positively on our lives—everything we have and the many wonderful people with whom we share it all. But this Thanksgiving especially, I felt it was important to consciously consider what it is I am grateful for. (Having like-minded Thanksgiving dinner guests was certainly first on my list), although the standard luxuries I tend to take for granted such as good health, friends and family, and a roof over my head also made the cut.
This year I am thankful for one additional thing: Wedged somewhere between a lot of tongue-in-cheek jokes, wine-induced laughter, poetry readings, speeches, and a brief screenplay (yeah, Dad goes all out), was an honest, productive, and inclusive conversation about the state of our country and where to go from here. Surprisingly, I came away from this discussion feeling hopeful. While it is important to give thanks for what we have this time of year, I believe that right now, in the midst of this nation-wide rupture, it is crucial to ask for more—mainly, to ask more of each other. To ask for mutual respect and understanding, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. To demand religious tolerance. To raise questions that challenge autocratic thinking. To hold ourselves, our neighbors, and those in authoritative positions accountable for their language and their actions. For if we don’t ask for more—if we don’t expect more—we will not progress as individuals nor as a nation.