Happy Thanksgiving! That's what's at least on my mind, and perhaps on all of our minds as another year of autumn goodness enters our crazy lives, our minds, and our hearts. How well I know.
I just got home from spending a week pursuing my first house sitting opportunity. There are many things we all may be thankful for at this time of year. As we enter the holiday season, however, and as I house sat in a beautiful three-story home in San Anselmo, I became so grateful and thankful for well... everything. Even the smallest of things we all take for granted. The beauty, peace and quiet, a large kitchen to cook some pretty damn good breakfasts and dinners in. A hot shower (even though I managed to accidentally soak two of the bath mats--the couple I house sat for was understanding and not bothered). And thought I felt tinges of loneliness being in a huge house by myself, there were other times when I loved the peace and serenity that surrounded me. And the owners paid me more than our agreed daily per diem rate and allowed me to use them as a reference for future house sitting opportunities--so I was very content.
I am thankful for the wonderful Thanksgiving my mother prepared for just the two of us. She cooked nearly eight hours the day before and yet we managed to have enoygh food to feed at least ten more. It was the most elegant "Thanksgiving for two" I had ever experienced in someone's home. I would have stayed over and didn't like the feeling of having to come back home to an empty house I was responsible--but duty called.
So what are you thankful for? As we enter the magical holiday season, filled with strong hints of economical pressures--banks failing the American people coupled with businesses participating in ideas like "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" when the poor can hardly afford to live off of their monthly welfare check... what are you thankful for?
I am thankful for living in Marin County--the most beautiful place in the Bay Area. I am thankful for a roof over my head. I am thankful for organizations and businesses aplenty. Surinder, Linda, Amba, and Sattu Sroa of Lotus Cuisine of India for opening their doors and hearts on Thanksgiving Eve to feed anyone. Homeward Bound of Marin for always providing a safety net with decent lodging and decent food for those without a more permanent roof over their heads. The public libraries for always providing a wealth of invaluable information and reading to patrons. I am thankful for a hot shower everyday. I am thankful, very thankful to my church home Westminster Presnyterian Church and to Pastor Barbara Rowe, Bethany Nelson, Nicole Trotter, and Ted Scott for providing an abundance of spiritual nourishment during Advent season. I love, really love this church. Pastor Barbara is the reason I came to Westminster. I am thankful to my church congregation, but am thankful to individuals closest to my heart like Peter and Marilyn Wuertz, Julie Roby, Leah Boyd, Meme Hurd, Denny and Betty Drake, and Randy Huyser. (The Wuertz' have been the closest to my heart.) These are the heart and soul--my heart and soul of the entire Congregation and they keep me going. I am thankful to Whistlestop Wheels for helping me with paratransit throughout Marin and Sonoma County, helping me get to and from places in the dark when my eyesight fails me. I am thankful for the cold autumn air and the cheap chai tea at Starbucks and Peet's (the best chai however is at Lotus). I am thankful for friends close and far like Cole, Tina, Tyler, Christina (you know who you are). I am thankful for College of Marin because this school has been the bridge between lower-division and upper-division transfer as well as the bridge between undergraduate completion and graduate school. At College of Marin, I am so so grateful and thankful for instructors like Linda Noble Brown who has been one of my favorite instructors there, and for Walter Turner who was the most inspiring history/ethnic studies instructor I have ever had, counselors Joetta Scott and Bessie Ng-Jung, and support staff Kate Dodele. College of Marin has been more than just a school where I came to learn and grow. It has been a place of transformation for me.
I am thankful and grateful for all these people that I'm sure tears could water the meadows of France. I am grateful and thankful for so much. What are you thankful for?
In a time of political, economical, social, and racial divide where the rich become richer and can only fix our problems... in a time of multiple "Occupy" movements, can we remain thankful. Can we keep a focus on our future with a focus that helps us move forward for the greater good of all?
I have had time over the past week to seriously contemplate the protest and horrific pepper spray incident that took place in the main quad at the University of California, Davis where my good friend's fiance teaches in the sociology department. She had posted some pictures of that rally. Then I began reading more about this incident in the news and saw more pictures of the protest and students being attacked by the pepper spray that was released into the quad. That protest was about a university administration that was not thankful and grateful for its constituents: the university's student body. With students being straddled with tuition fee hikes across the state's three-tier system of higher education, UC Davis students' needs have (apparently) been ignored by a UC administration that see's the concept of what they do as running a business while catering to their own whims and needs--not those of their customers--the students.
If you work in higher education, what are you grateful for: another student or another paycheck on salary? If you teach, do you have a fair union that fairy represents you? If you work in higher education, are you going to work with others such as your administration or Board of Regents to keep higher education affordable so that you don't water down the quality of education by reducing classroom size? We have choices to make about what we're thankful for; so if you work in higher education, what's your choice? How do we take back power from the rich running our government so that it is redistributed? How do we keep banks from collapsing, university education from becoming more expensive and unattainable? How do we keep our students attending schools like UC Davis as our main focus while making sure higher education administrations don't take advantage of these students in order to cover their financial problems that come from the state and problems originating both on Wall Street and in Washington D.C.?
As we enter this holiday season and think about Black Friday, how can we think of spending money we barely have on high-end merchandise when the banks in our country are having trouble keeping afloat? If we took away commercialism and capitalism for Christmas and Haunakah, what would you THEN be thankful for? Because for as far as I can see, we have problems where our focus needs to shift from being thankful for borrowing spending, and going under to being thankful for the opportunity to live and let live... to be grateful and thankful we can sleep, eat, bathe, and love each other. A shift in the perspective of reality based on a shift in the perspective of our beliefs and value system will be a start this holiday season!