It has been a sad, frustrating, angering few weeks, but I still have much to be thankful for. I am in NYC with my extended family to celebrate not just Thanksgiving and Fantastic Beasts but also for my parent's 60th anniversary. Yowza. My parents are not quite as quick on their feet, but are still pretty sharp, and very intent on organizing events that get the family together.
So, over these several days, I will see pretty much every Saideman relative (brother, sisters, their kids, my cousins, their kids, fake cousins) I have with two notable exceptions--Traveling College Spew as my daughter is abroad this fall and my uncle who past way too soon. I have been lucky as my family has mostly dodged serious diseases and nasty accidents. Indeed, last June, my daughter and I flew off the highway in northern New York after hydroplaning, and suffered no injuries (although many snails that jumped on our car when it was in a ditch certainly died). So, I am thankful that my family and nearly all of my friends are healthy.
Professionally, I am most thankful for my career. The road was occasionally bumpy with many failed job talks and more years in places that I didn't enjoy than I would have liked, but I have a great job now in a terrific city for an IR person. I am on sabbatical, which is like a comet, coming by every seven years to dazzle me. Alas, this one may have lost some productivity due to the distraction sauce that was this election season. But I am also traveling much in this year, with a fantastic month in Japan with two more weeks there in January plus trips ahead to South Korea (maybe Hong Kong) and Latin America. I still enjoy teaching (grading? not so much) and research and writing as I pass the halfway point in my career.
While we face much strife in the world and online, I take some solace in how much we benefit from the fruits of the 21st century. I have been able to stay in or regain contact with people from all over my life--summer camp, high school, college, the various places since then--and engage with strangers until they become virtual friends and even in life friends. As a fan of superhero comic books, the present and future are mighty bright with heaps of fun stuff on TV and at the movies. There are, thankfully, more Harry Potter universe stories to be told, as I will experience this afternoon. Oh, and a new Star Wars movie every year? Yes, please.
It is hard to be optimistic in the Age of Trump, but I am thankful for the people I see starting to plan and mobilize the resistance. The political fights will not be pleasant, there will be high costs and many losses (I expect most, if not all, of Trump's most awful nominees to be confirmed), but I expect the fight to be intense with this period being remembered as a dark but finite time in American and World History. The damage will reverberate beyond 2020, but I do believe that we shall overcome. So, I am thankful for those who have fought injustice in the past, who help guide the way ahead.
I take some inspiration from the superheroes of fiction:
So, on this rather somber Thankgiving Day, I am thankful for the inspirations we have, wherever they come from and for all that I have and all that I will have. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day!