On Thanksgiving, my family’s traditions will reflect the loyal, active, robust, big family life that shaped me. We’re so fortunate to be together to share the making of another year’s memory. In these late autumn days with temperatures dipping to 20-degrees below zero, we’ll brave Alaska’s biting cold to run and skate and ride – just because we can, and for that I am so thankful. Life in America’s Last Frontier is not an easy living, but it’s a good living. Here in Alaska, where I’m never without inspiration, an optimistic pioneering spirit still permeates, and harsh conditions force us out of self-centeredness and towards community – often in order to survive.
This need for selflessness – and the blessings that come with it – sharpened for me almost four years ago when I was given the gift of broader horizons, clarified priorities, and more commitment to justice and compassion for my fellow man who faces challenges and fears. I was granted this through a gift that arrived in a tiny, six-pound, awe-inspiring bundle. We named him Trig.
I know America’s potential for goodness, thus greatness, because I see it every day through my son. Nothing makes me happier or prouder than to see America’s good heart when someone smiles at my Trig. I notice it happens often in airports. Often a traveler passing by does a double-take when they see him, perhaps curious about the curious look on his face; perhaps my son momentarily exercises an uncontrollable motion that takes the passerby by surprise. Perhaps, as an innocent and candid child announced when she first met Trig, they think “he’s awkward.” But when that traveler pauses to look again and smile, and maybe tells me what a handsome boy I have, I swell with American pride. I am so thankful for their good heart. They represent the best in our country and their kindness shows the real hope we need today.
I am thankful that, as in so many areas of life, the bitter people who say bitter things about someone facing challenges are so outnumbered. There have been stinging criticisms, even from people still screaming that Trig should never have been born, but we know those critics may be the loudest and most malicious, but they’re not the majority.
To me, when individuals reflect the greater societal acceptance of someone facing challenges, they show the best of humanity – even by offering a simple pat on Trig’s head or a knowing smile shot our way. Conversely, when a society works to eliminate the “weakest links” (as some would callously consider the disabled) or “the unproductive” (as some would callously consider the very young and the very old), it eliminates the very best of itself. When a society seeks to destroy them, it also destroys any ability or need for sincere compassion, empathy, improvement, and even goodwill. And those are the very best qualities of humanity! Those are the characteristics of a country that understands and embraces true hope! America can be compassionate and strong enough as a nation to be entrusted with those who some see as an “inconvenience,” but who are really our greatest blessings. Through Trig, I see firsthand that there is man’s standard of perfection, and then there is God’s. Man’s standard is flawed, temporary, and shallow. God’s standard lasts an eternity. At the end of the day, His is what matters.
So, this Thanksgiving my family will bundle Trig up and grin while we watch him through ice-frosted eyelashes as he curiously takes in all that is around him in the crisp open air. I hope your Thanksgiving gives you the opportunity to find that reminder of what really matters, too. For me, my perfect picture of thankfulness is my perfectly awesome son. With him, all is well with my soul and I know I am blessed.