Tag Archives: celebrate

From Rebecca: Happy 4th of July next week

Greetings, Joe’s readers. The 4th of July is next Tuesday. We will celebrate the courageous and breathtaking chances our first leaders took when setting up the United States of America, and the people who carried forward the promises of a free and equal country. Our nation is experiencing a time of conflict and anger now, as it has many times before, and, like each of those times before, I expect the county will emerge from the struggle closer to freedom for all.

Our first leaders, coming from an experience of monarchy and long reigns for rulers, decided to base their new government on elections by the people being governed, and to have a peaceful transfer of power. No overthrowing (or killing) one leader to install another, but a voluntary giving up of power. That was such an amazing concept for a brand new country to even try. It is still an amazing concept even today. We see it play out on all levels, from school board members to state legislators, to governors, to federal legislators, to the president. That much turn-over in leadership, and it has made our country among the most stable governments in the world. That is something to celebrate.

We also have something to celebrate in these words from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I was a child in school, I was taught that the word men in this statement meant mankind, and included women and children in the unalienable rights too. I was also taught that when the country began, voting rights applied to only white men, aged 21 years or older, who owned land. That shiny ideal that all people are created equal and endowed with certain rights was a long way from practice when our country started. In fact, with slavery, indentured servants, and class systems, the country was as far from the shiny ideal as it could be. But it was a beginning.

Every day, month, year, decade, generation, and century that goes by we get closer to equal rights for all. With non-land owners getting the vote, the official end to slavery, black men getting the vote and then getting elected to offices, women getting the vote and getting elected to offices, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legalization of same-sex marriages, and every other step small and large, The United States of America has moved closer to that beacon in the distance. Social change is slow, even at times when it comes in big bursts. But no matter the speed, social change is always headed towards that awesome ideal given to us all at the beginning of this nation: That all are created equal with certain unalienable rights.

Happy July 4th everybody. Have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Thanksgiving and my mom Betty Lee

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, the holiday where we celebrate the gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans to give thanks for friendship and abundance. Traditionally we celebrate it with a big meal that we eat with as many family members as possible, where we say what we are thankful for, and then after the meal we fall asleep will watching football on television. The holiday is about family, tradition, gratitude, and food.

It was one of my mother’s favorite holidays. Betty Lee was big on counting your blessings, but she also really loved that every few years her birthday was the same day as Thanksgiving. Last Sunday I had conversations about her with my father and with my sisters. She passed away almost four years ago, and we are thinking about her a lot. We aren’t going to be all together this year, instead we are having small gatherings in our own homes. I never realized how much she and my step-father did to get us together for the holidays and birthdays until she passed away. Without her calling with the time, place, and expectation to be there for family get-togethers, we just don’t get many of them arranged anymore. We do see and talk to each other a lot, so that is good. Maybe the big meal together is more for families that are far apart from one another. We are blessed to live as close as we do. We are not as close as we would like to be my step-father, but we try to keep in touch as much as we can.

My mom and step-father, when they were still in good health, loved going places and talking to people. In restaurants they knew the servers and managers, in banks they knew the tellers, and in grocery stores they knew many of the cashiers. They really liked knowing about other people and had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. If someone had trouble and needed help, my mom and step-father would give that help if they could. Mom loved keeping in contact with people on the internet, especially Facebook. My sister Marjorie has inherited these traits. She also likes keeping up with a wide circle of friends on the internet. When I go to restaurants with her, she knows all the servers and managers. They stop by the table for a minute on the way by to chat with her and she cares about many of them. At one place, she is such friends with a few of the servers that for a while she was giving them rides to and from work when they had trouble with transportation. Mom would be so proud of Marjorie.

Mom also spent her life exploring her spiritual path, inner truth, and how to live her faith. She sometimes explored paths that were different from those her family, and sometimes society, were following, like A Course in Miracles. She followed her own sense of inner right and wrong, while accepting that others had different views. My sister Jennifer also explores her inner spiritual truth and how to live her faith. She participates in her church and struggles with how to follow her path and God’s plan for her. Her father, mother, and sisters are not a part of her church and that faith, but she is true to herself by choosing to be there. She also uses her artistic skills to help others who are in pain because of tragic loss. Mom would be so proud of Jennifer.

I am not sure what I share with Mom, other a love of books, but I know that her life on earth flows through us and with us into the world. I am so thankful that she was my mom. It is one of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving, along with my dad, sisters, step-father, nephews, niece, brother-in-law, husband, mother-in-law, my friend Joe, and my other friends. Mom was a big believer in going around the Thanksgiving meal table and saying our list of what we are thankful for each year.

I know there are people who do not celebrate Thanksgiving the same way, and see it in light of the eventual oppression of the Native people of this land by the European people. I am aware that the Natives got the short end of every deal they made with the people and nation that followed the help that tribe gave the Pilgrims that first pivotal year. But I love the spirit of two different groups gathering together to celebrate friendship, generosity, and achievement. The Pilgrims had lost so many in the ocean crossing and the first devastating winter. Then, with help, they learned to live off the land and grow crops in their new home. They had food and skills to go into another winter from a better position. In gratitude, they invited their teachers to a feast, to celebrate having an abundance to share. We honor that meal with our holiday.

So if you are in the United States and participate in Thanksgiving, may you have a good meal and great company. If you don’t celebrate the holiday, may you still have many blessings to give thanks for this year.¬†Happy Thanksgiving.