Being born in England, I never experienced Thanksgiving until I came to the United States. It is a yearly tradition that I look forward to and enjoy with family and friends. However, it is being able to give that is the most rewarding. I once made a large turkey to take to a halfway house in nearby White Plains, another time taking food to someone in need at a local housing project. But I think the most memorable Thanksgiving was going to a Bowl Game with our local Youth Tackle League football team. Held every Thanksgiving weekend (the buses would leave late on Thanksgiving Day), taking the athletes away until the Sunday for a memorable trip. At the time, my son who played Defensive End and Defensive Tackle, was the only non-minority on the team. He had to earn the respect of his team mates to be acknowledged, and he did so that first year when he scored a Safety. From that point on, he had a name and the team members and his new friends used it.
The Bowl game was a yearly event that took the players to a different part of the country, stayed in hotels that some would never have occasion to frequent, to basically travel to some small extent, and it was a treat for all. The coaches were and are mostly the same wonderful people who give up their time every year to share their knowledge, expertise, and just being good mentors to young men, some of whom come from single family homes, and some from parents who were less fortunate in many ways.
The one year I went, it was to a town in Pennsylvania….. the coach disallowed our first touch down, and we were told that usually happened when you play an ‘away’ game…I saw the children ridiculed by other teams, and I couldn’t help but feel it was because of their color. It saddened and angered me. The coaches told the athletes to disregard the comments, to move on, and not to let others comments afffect them at all. I was so impressed by the dignity and courage shown by these young men. My husband and I had helped bring two of the players to the Bowl game by helping them in their school studies so they would have the passing scores to be eligible for travel. However, I was the one who benefitted from the whole experience. Nothing is more pleasurable than giving to someone else….
I am always amazed when I hear of wealthy actors and actresses who are in trouble….. If they would just go and volunteer somewhere, and see how many of our nation live, they would be better people. This year, the Youth Tackle League is going to Baltimore to see Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. He will shake their hands, and Ray (a former New Rochelle Youth Tackle League player), will give them a tour of the changing rooms and facilities.
I give thanks to this wonderful nation, a nation that allows freedom of speech, and a nation that is caring to those in need. With so many people be homeless, unemployed, and hungry…. I am thankful for the food I have for my table, and I made sure I collected my ‘free’ turkey from my local supermarket late yesterday (after I had spent X amount). There is a Hope kitchen in my city that will benefit from that turkey….. and that is what makes my day a true Thanksgiving Day for me. The United Sates is not perfect, but the mere fact that we can all talk about its imperfections without fear of reprisal, and the fact that we can all work on making it a better country.. certainly says a lot.
Wishing you all the best of days… What is special to you?
NEW ROCHELLE is GREAT.