As I got older and became a parent, the importance and solemnity of Thanksgiving gave me awesome feelings. It should be a time to reflect on our blessings and good health, friends and happiness and to realize that there is a higher power providing His grace to us. It is a religious day without the religion.
There is a Blessing I like to say when we sit down for the meal. “Blessed are You our G-d, L-rd of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.” It is known as the Shehecheyanu because that is the Hebrew translation for “kept us alive.” Jews say this prayer at the beginning of each holiday or new major event in our lives.
This year, many people I was close to are no longer with us, or are ill, and on reflecting, that makes the past year sad. However, some really great things also occurred. My oldest grandson, Sam, made us extremely proud when he became a Bar Mitzvah, as did his cousin Daniel two months afterwards, our health is good, we have been managing as best we could staying in and not risking getting sick, Zoom has created a link to friends all over the world and I started teaching at my alma mater, Baruch College.
While my Baruch teaching is on Zoom, I find the stimulation of interacting with the enthusiastic young students rejuvenating. They come from all backgrounds, and for many, English is not their primary language, many work and some even have two jobs while managing a full course load, and almost all live at home commuting via subway, which is what I did, but not for my class since all they need to do is log on to Zoom. As students, they are eager to learn, and many submit the homework early and ask for additional exercises to ensure they are mastering the subject matter. Their questions during the class sessions and those emailed to me are all insightful and show a desire to learn. These kids are winners, and I have great hope for the future as I know some of them will certainly become leaders and will make valuable contributions as did so many Baruch and City College students before them.
Life has many curves, many of which we cannot control. It’s OK to be upset at curves we cannot control, but not OK to dwell on them and make them defining moments in our lives. Doing that holds you back and thwarts growth because it is excess heavy baggage that hinders living in the present and looking forward to the future. Sometimes things stink, but Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the Blessings and look forward to good times ahead.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.
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