by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
November 24, 2005
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Being a sucker for turkey and sentiment, I love the idea of Thanksgiving.
And although my beloved country is in deep trouble, I still have plenty to be thankful about.
I'm thankful that my mother, Rose Kagan, has left the warmth of Florida to spend the holiday with us in Vermont. Mom has had a bad year, filled with personal illnesses and a hurricane that wiped out her backyard. Yet she was willing to brave the cold, and Tuesday she saw snow for the first time in decades.
I'm thankful that we'll be spending Thanksgiving with my husband's large and loving family in Hatfield, Mass., and then going north to spend the weekend with my ex-husband, Jerry Marcel, and his wife, Barbara. When you can be close friends with your ex, it means you were lucky enough to save something out of a once-precious love. There's a real shortage of love in this world, and wasting it is a terrible thing.
The older I get, the more I, once a rebel with much cause, appreciate the importance of family. (And the older I get, sadly, the less family I have.) I also am more appreciative of friends, old and new.
In America, where families are fragmented by geography, we have learned the art of making friends into family. This is a great talent. As Andre Malraux once said, "Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold."
I'm thankful - no, make that grateful - to The American Reporter for allowing me to have a voice here every Thursday.
And most of all, I'm thankful for the readers of this column, especially the ones who stop me on the street or in the supermarket or email or call or write letters to say they liked - or hated - something I wrote. For a lonely writer on a hill, being allowed to carry on a conversation with the people of this country is a magnificent gift.
On the political front, I'm thankful that the American people are starting to wake up from their long drugged sleep and see the true nature of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. According to every poll, their approval ratings are dropping through the floor. It couldn't happen to more deserving people.
I'm thankful for Rep. John Murtha, the crusty Democratic hawk who finally spoke out against the terrible tragedy of the war in Iraq, calling it "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion." And when the right-wingers attacked him, as they always attack their critics, he came back at them hard, pointing out that no one in the Bush administration, chicken hawks every one, has ever shown up to fight a war. I'm thankful that the press, in general, has begun to develop a collective spine. I know how scary it was to write against Bush in the lead-up days to the Iraqi war. It may sound overdramatic now, but every week, after my column was published, I looked down the road, wondering if I'd be arrested and taken away. As the press corps wakes up, I welcome them to the front lines, where they should have been all along.
All in all in America, "It's a long-coming shift in the zeitgeist, as evident in the media as in the halls of Congress," writes Tom Engelhardt of the Nation Institute.
What caused the shift? Many things, but my personal heroines are Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan for calling out Bush on his own turf, broadcaster Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now" for fearlessly telling us the hideous truth every day, the great columnist Molly Ivins for warning us all along how incompetent Mr. Bush would be, and author Barbara Ehrenreich for her sharp-witted reporting on how America really lives. I also have a hero, Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, who writes with his heart and whose strong words humble us all.
Still, every day brings sadder and sadder news. There have been 2,100 Americans killed in Iraq so far, maybe more by the time you read this, and many more have been wounded. We have killed thousands of unnamed Iraqis and we don't even bother to count them. We have taken up torture. We have started a bloody and explosive civil war.
At home, the jobs are gone. For those of us who are not among the super-rich, the economy is in freefall. The loss of New Orleans is devastating. We're seeing an increasing number of homeless people. Here in New England, we're afraid that people will freeze to death this winter because they can't afford heating oil.
But the tide of change in this country may be starting to turn, and for that, we all should be thankful.
"It's finally Wizard of Oz time in America," Engelhardt writes. "You know - that moment when the curtains are pulled back, the fearsome-looking wizard wreathed in all that billowing smoke turns out to be some pitiful little guy, and everybody looks around sheepishly, wondering why they acted as they did for so long." Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who lives in Vermont and writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.