Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. We spend a lot of the year whining and fretting and striving. We set our sights on the future, craving greener pastures or better times. We sometimes envy our neighbors, sometimes covet what others flaunt, maybe begrudge the success of people who work less hard. We worry what’s happening to our country, about institutions undermined, about faith misplaced. We focus a lot on what we may have lost in the past or what we might gain in the future, not just materially but in other ways also.
I like Thanksgiving because it is about the present. It is not about what could have been or should have been. It is about giving thanks for the blessings of now, and I give meta-thanks that there is a culturally enforced day that compels us to pause and contemplate those blessings, else we tend to overlook them.
I am a fan of pausing.
Besides perhaps copious amounts of food, Thanksgiving is not about giving material gifts. It is not like Christmas or a birthday, where even the anticipation of a thoughtful present may bring a smile to someone’s face. It is about appreciating the gifts you already possess, like a good friend or a good job or good health. Everyone has blessings to count and there is not only comfort, but virtue, in counting them. I think a lot about what Stephen Colbert said to Anderson Cooper in that extraordinary interview not long ago: “It’s a gift to exist.” I try really hard to remember that every day; it’s more difficult on bad days, but those are the days it’s most important to try.
I am the luckiest person I know, and I feel deeply blessed. I could tick off countless things I am thankful for, but in this forum, I just want to thank all of you.
Thank you for listening, for reading, for caring. Anne and I began this little weekly podcast almost exactly a year ago, wondering whether there was any kind of appetite for another hour of sometimes wonky conversation about the things she and I care so much about – democracy, justice, the rule of law. Twelve months later, I am not only impressed but also touched by the community that has grown up here. There are now many, many thousands of you. You not only listen, but you write and comment and ask questions. That interest and thoughtfulness is one of my principal sources of hope about America.
I am thankful that, in the process, you’ve gotten to know my dear friend Anne, who has been my buddy for almost fifteen years now, not just as a whip smart lawyer and leader, but as a down-to-earth human being. We talk about a lot of serious stuff, but I hope you can tell we have a blast on the show. When we settle in behind our microphones on Monday mornings with coffee and cough drops, heads overloaded with the tumultuous news from the week, we try to remember to talk like real people and have a little fun. I love that many of you appreciate our running inside jokes – “extrawdinary,” penguin-stealing, laughing challenges, butt-tweeting, and the like. We see your tweets and messages joking along with us, and they make us smile.
One more thing I love: Running into CAFE Insiders. Sometimes it’s at an event where I’m giving a speech, sometimes in a store, sometimes just around town; one of you will introduce yourself not by name at first, but with this soft-spoken announcement: “Hi Preet. I’m an Insider.” It tickles me every time. It happened just yesterday on lower Park Avenue in Manhattan. I was with much of the CAFE team huddled at the corner talking about work after going out for lunch. Just then, a woman walked by, flashed a big grin, and turned her phone towards me. Why? To show us that she was, at that very moment, listening to the Insider podcast.
I couldn’t be more grateful for your attention and trust. It means the world.
So, if you ever see me on the street or in a bookstore, please say hi and let me thank you in person. I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings.
P.S. Anne and I don’t do this alone. We have a remarkably hard-working and dedicated team that makes it all possible. They brief us on the substance, correct our mistakes, give us guidance, and make us sound good in the final cut. On this Thanksgiving, Anne and I are deeply thankful to them and you should be too: Tamara Sepper, Julia Doyle, Geoff Isenman, David Tatasciore, David Kurlander, Calvin Lord, and Carla Pierini.