By Elizabeth Anne Hull
Celebrating our first holidays at Gateway without Fred has been bittersweet. (“Gateway” is the name Fred and I gave our house.) Our Christmas decorations are a little more elaborate this year, with some extra lights to make up for the bright spot who isn’t here.
At Thanksgiving last month, we all helped make the major meal, and everyone was stuffed at the end of it. Tasty and satisfying. Only eight of us this year; we’ve often had up to twenty.
Before diving in to feast, we all shared what we were most thankful for. I said I was grateful for knowing Fred for over thirty-five years, and being married to him for more than twenty-nine years, and since Fred wasn’t there to say it, I also said I was grateful that we had begun to negotiate with Iran, and though success isn’t certain, there’s a little more chance for peace in the Middle East and for everyone in the world.
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Thanksgiving is the most ecumenical and inclusive holiday we share in America. Yet all year round, Americans share something with each other: Our American lifestyle is built on trust and honesty. We rely on others to be honorable.
When we pay for a product or service, whether it’s food, clothing, a haircut, cable access, medicine, an automobile, a new smart phone, a house, insurance — we most often pay on a credit or debit card or by writing a check. We are not quite a cashless society, but the folks who sell goods and provide services expect that when people pay with plastic or electronically they will take care of the bill when it comes. Even when we pay with coins and bills, we expect that these symbols of exchange are valid tenders, not counterfeits.
We’re aware that some people cheat or are deadbeats or outright frauds, yet if the majority of us weren’t honest, our whole society would collapse. We are far too many people and our interactions are too complex to use trade and barter. We can’t all be survivalists, growing all of our own food and creating safe shelter for our families. We’re all in it together.
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Upon reflection, the thing I probably was most grateful for was that we didn’t get a single annoying phone call all day trying to sell us a home-security system or a device in case “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
I don’t worry so much about our survival as a species and as a country, when I’m not deluged by fear mongers.