My Top Comments diary every Thanksgiving week since 2015 (except for last year!) is a visit to a song I listen to primarily at this time of year... May The Light Of Love by David Roth (not THAT David Roth! THIS one!). It is the best musical "grace" I've ever heard and as a Unitarian Universalist who doesn’t usually SAY grace except with family at major holidays, that says a lot.
Tonight will make the eleventh time I’ve let this song offer bits of itself in greater or lesser import based on events of the past year. As I reread each (2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021) prior to beginning this edition, I’m pleased they don’t read as mere copy pastes. Sure, the setup is familiar but that’s about it… my intention was then and is now to take this one song and reinterpret it based on events of the past year. I try not to look at prior diaries in detail until after I’ve got a solid draft of the current year. Sometimes my thoughts go in similar directions but other years bear no resemblance to one another.
Before I go further, a reminder to be mindful always of the fact that for indigenous peoples this Thursday is a National Day of Mourning (livestream of the Plymouth, MA event at noon Eastern on Thursday). White colonizer arrival on these shores four hundred years ago brought four centuries of tragedy and costs untold in loss of life, land, language, culture and dignity. As you gather at your Thanksgiving tables, please remember those whose land you occupy (If you are unsure, you can enter your ZIP code at https://native-land.ca/ and find out). Casa Brillig sits on Massa-adchu-es-et (Massachusett) and Pawtucket land. The Thanksgivings of my childhood were held on Munsee Lenape and Mohican land.
Settle in with whatever you’re drinking this Monday evening of Thanksgiving week, let the song (a different recording than my usual!!) then hop over and join us for my take on the lyrics, 2023 style.
Not only did David Roth write this song at and for Thanksgiving, but he did so mere miles from where I live:
Written during Thanksgiving weekend in Cambridge, MA for my first-ever appearances at Passim (formerly Club 47), the gratitude I was feeling at that time for all that I had in my life continues to this day. --David Roth
The song is structured as five verses and a chorus. Let’s see how 2023 speaks to me through these words:
As we come around to take our places at the table
A moment to remember and reflect upon our wealth
Here's to loving friends and family, here's to being able
To gather here together in good company and health
As we have done every year since 2018 (except for 2020 of course), instead of gathering with Mr. Brillig’s NH family or my sister’s CT one, we’ll be getting together with members of our local family of choice. We won’t be as many as those pre-pandemic Friendsgivings; instead of 20+ we’ll be twelve… two other families, Casa Brillig, and for the first time K1’s significant other. He wasn’t yet in the picture last year at this time, and he truly has enriched our family with his presence.
Every time I hear this verse, I’m struck by how very wealthy I am. No, I don’t mean monetarily, although I am truly blessed to have a home, healthcare, and food security. I am blessed with an abundance of people in my life whose very presence enriches me. They come from all the corners of my life to date: childhood and college friends, those I met via my Unitarian Universalist congregation (where our Friendsgiving group originated), local friends I met in my children’s schools and sports teams or via local political activism, and people from my virtual home in Second Life who have become Real to me in all my worlds. And of course all of you in my Daily Kos family, who have been part of my life for almost two decades. Some of you I’ve met at meetups and of course at our annual Netroots Nation family reunion, others who I know only via your words here.
May we be released from all those feelings that would harm us
May we have the will to give them up and get them gone
For heavy are the satchels full of anger and false promise
May we have the strength to put them down
It is so easy to say “stop carrying all that negativity/stress/etc around” but Roth has it right that it takes will and strength to give it up and get them gone. I’ve spoken before about the correlation between stress and blood sugar control… stress from anger or insomnia leads to increased cortisol levels and increased cortisol levels leads to higher blood sugar, which leads (in my case at least) to bigger feelings and a harder time managing them, which leads to stress, and the cycle continues. It literally is a matter of life and death for me to keep it ALARA: as low as reasonably achievable.
It’s been a rough year to manage all those feelings, all that anger. The multiply-indicted Orange Bearer of Anger and False Promises has been all over our interweb and airwaves, and even though we KNOW it’s all lies, it is hard to put it down because the stakes are so high. If we, as the song goes, let it go… will we be gathering this time next year or will we have been gathered and taken away?
So if we can’t let go of THAT, are there other places we can manage the harmful feelings and anger? Or find ways to calm our overactive fight-or-flight nervous systems and find balance? I get a couple of miles in each day walking my dog, and over the past year I’ve created a bedtime ritual involving a particular essential oil blend and guided meditations designed for bedtime to make restful sleep more likely. I don’t know if it’s actually helping or placebo effect, but it isn’t harming, and in these times I’ll take that.
May we wish the best for every one that we encounter
May we swallow pride and may we do away with fear
For it's only what we do not know that we have grown afraid of
And only what we do not choose to hear
I know without even needing to check that I’ve written in past Thanksgiving diaries about the damaging effects fear have had on us as a community, as a nation, and as a world. I am convinced that FEAR of anyone they perceive as ‘different’ is what drives MAGA-America. Well, that and the whole belonging to a cult thing, but even that is fear-based… fear of admitting they’re wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence their Leader is a fascist, authoritarian charlatan hellbent on destroying America.
How do we keep from falling prey to the same way of thinking? Well, we try to listen and understand those around us. This doesn’t mean giving credence to conspiracy theories, misinformation etc… it means trying to understand why the person saying these things believes them to be true. Every person deserves best wishes. Even if those wishes include fervent hopes from us that our paths don’t often cross.
As we bless our daily bread and drink our day's libation
May we be reminded of the lost and wayward soul
The hungry and the homeless that we have in every nation
May we fill each empty cup and bowl
I cannot read these without thinking of civilians in Ukraine. In Gaza. In our own cities and towns here. In all the places where there are people unhoused and unfed due to war, conflict, famine, corrupt government, a broken and failed safety net. When I sit down at my table Thursday, my plate will be overflowing with food. I will not worry about my next meal, my next place to sleep, or whether I will be bombed while I sleep. Far too many will.
Today was my city’s 9th annual Kind Day, which began as a response to local middle schoolers’ acting on the suggestion on the show South Park that November 20 was “kick a ginger day.” Residents responded by transforming November 20th into a day filled with random acts of kindness. And so among hundreds of acts small and large was a food drive, to provide the makings for dinner this week to those who otherwise would not be able to afford to do so.
As I read through prior versions of this after my draft was done, I was reminded of what I said about this verse in 2017, and want to share it again here:
There are too many of us hungry and unhoused while others sit at laden tables in castles bigger than any person requires. The inequity of life in our towns, states, nations and world must change. However, I extend this charge to take care of one another beyond food and shelter- we need to fight white privilege and the systemic racism and take care of our black and brown brothers and sisters. We need to lift up our sisters as they struggle for the basic human right of controlling their own bodies. We need to BELIEVE those who come forward with #metoo. We need to fill the cup of equality for each of our BGLTQ+ friends and family. There are too many of us struggling to find our way through mental and/or physical health challenges in a healthcare system designed to render it difficult if not impossible to do so.
May nothing ever come between or threaten to divide us
May we never take for granted all the gifts that we receive
Being ever mindful of the unseen hands that guide us
And the miracles that cause us to believe
This verse is one I sometimes hesitate to reflect on here, because of its spiritual imagery. And yet miracles come in all forms and do not require angels or a sky god or turtles all the way down. When one human being helps another, that’s a miracle. When a child is cured by medical science, that’s a miracle. I’m sure you have your own examples.
There is too much in this world that divides us. In our United States, we’re hearing an increased call for some states to secede. To divide. But that negates the existence and efforts of millions of people in those very states working constantly to better the situation for everyone. And when we echo those calls here, we hurt the very people we need to encourage. Dividing us isn’t the answer.
May the light of love be shining deep within your spirit
May the torch of mercy clear the path and show the way
May the horn of plenty sound so everyone can hear it
May the light of love be with you every day
This is my wish for you and yours this Thanksgiving Day and always. May you have each and all of these, and may the vision of ourselves, our communities, our nation and our world come to pass because we work to bring it to fruition.
Now, on to the feast that is our nightly Trio of Tops!
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Top Mojo for yesterday (Sunday), November 19th 2023, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary on FAQing Top Mojo.
Top Pictures for yesterday (Sunday), November 19th 2023. Click any picture to be taken to the full comment or picture. Thank you to the wonderful dKos staff who made it possible to continue this feature in memory of jotter!