Since starting this site in the fall of 2011 I have occasionally interrupted the normal goings-on here to make an appeal to you to, “be nice to each other.” As I’m sure you understand, this has never been an appeal directed towards any of you specifically- Matt, Bev, Joe, Kevin, Andrew M., Andrew B., etc.- but just a general plea in the hope that you, already being good people, might make an additional small effort to be kind, tolerant, and helpful towards somebody else who might be struggling to be all or any of these things.
This year, I come to you with the same request, but one that seems to be needed now more than ever. At this time of year when many of us are called to reflect upon all that we are thankful for, please do so. More than that, let those for whom you are thankful know it through both your deeds and your words. Don’t assume that those around you will simply “know.” Say “please,” and “thank you,” and when you’d rather just sit and let others clear the Thanksgiving table, say, “Let me help you with that.” If nothing else, leave your cellphone in the car.
More than any of this, though, try to be understanding. It may be hard for some of you to fathom, but I truly believe that most people are good people and want to be good people. When I come across somebody who causes me to question this belief I can become very frustrated, very quickly- and I’m not proud of this reaction. I think it comes from a good place- wanting everyone to always be their “best self”- but in the moment that doesn’t help. What does help is to check my initial reaction and to try to remember that, while it may not appear so, that person probably is trying to be their best self and is more frustrated with themselves than you are for falling short of it.
I guess what I’m saying is, while you’re being thankful, also be thoughtful.
Be safe in your travels, be thankful for the bounty we are able to enjoy, and focus on what you have rather than what you lack.