A Thanksgiving “Thank You” to America!

By Di Chapman
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I stand agasp on the scales today, mortified by what this Thanksgiving dinner could mean to me in terms of poundage. Still immobilized by my broken foot, I have watched as the pounds have steadily appeared on my hips and tummy. You see, my lack of willpower, when it comes to food, even with all of my food intolerances, is plastering fat on my body. And Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. I have always had the inability to say “no” to candied yams, pumpkin pie and fudge. I can never be trusted to eat just one piece of anything, whether it be flourless chocolate cake, said candied yams, that pumpkin pie, or even peanut butter on a rice cake, a.k.a. particle board.

I’ll come clean, and admit that for all of my kvetching and moaning about my recent weight gain, I probably won’t stop indulging. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I won’t lie. With my sweet tooth and appetite, I’m a goner.

Nonetheless, my admitted lack of self-control is accompanied by many things I do take control over, and one of those is simply being thankful, not just at Thanksgiving, and throughout the holidays, but every day of the year. Although daily bread is, and truthfully always will be, perhaps higher on the list than other things, like you, at the top for me are family (I count pets as family, too), friends, health, and work.

Wanna know another one? Give thanks for America. I think there’s plenty to be thankful for in that huge meal and gathering of friends and family. For Mark and me, we’re thankful for our Roswell community as we eat yearly at a restaurant that cooks up Thanksgiving fixin’s for those of us who choose to forego hours of clean up. Let’s remember to give thanks to America and to voting .

As always, I have stories to tell about my lifetime love affair with voting.

Y’all, if the Chapman children had gained their enfranchisement by 1960, I have no doubt that at age six I would have been on my tiptoes reaching up to pull the levers behind the voting curtain.

I’m fairly certain that the kids in my household were taught about the importance of voting since we were in the crib. Even then, I started “peripheral civic duties” as a youngster, and when I say that, I mean as a child. Mom and Dad were the children of immigrants, and were ardent believers in the importance of voting. Their entire families were as well, with my father, aunts and uncles serving in the military as proud soldiers, WACs, and in country war effort support. Even my immigrant grandparents served in support of the war effort. Ladies, my Icelandic grandmother, who was an illegal alien, even ran guns in North Dakota for America under the darkness of night, so as not to tip off our enemies. For any of you who wondered about my personality, well, I didn’t fall far from the tree. It was inevitable that at family get-togethers the conversation always managed to turn to politics and “God bless America.”

Politics aside, though, they felt strongly about their civic duty to go to the polls, whenever called, at whatever cost. I remember my dad, a traveling salesman, speeding home from business trips to rush to the polls. He never missed a vote. My mom, too, who was a teacher, was usually right in the center of the action, as schools were usually the polling places. She, too, never missed voting day. Consequently, yours truly has always had a fire in the belly for the privilege of voting. I really dig it.

Those were the days when political campaigns started after party conventions, where the choice of a candidate was a white-knuckle process, with unknown outcomes until the state-by-state roll call vote by convention delegates. It was an honor to be among the delegates, and the convention halls buzzed with excitement. We were on the edge of our seats then, because you honestly didn’t know whom your party would choose as the presidential candidate.

I remember how, in our household, we were glued to the black and white TV set during conventions. I loved hearing the state delegates one-by-one boldly pronouncing their pick of candidate, after starting with, “Mr. Chairman, (Where’s the “Madame Chairwoman,” even now, I wonder?) the great state of blah, blah, blah, casts its vote for so and so!” I still love this.

So, enter the presidential races of 1960 and 1964, and you might not be surprised. The Chapman children passed out fliers for the candidates of our parents’ choice door-to-door in our little neighborhood. I knocked on doors as a six- and ten-year-old for presidential candidates. The neighbors were exchanging glances, and commenting to their spouses, “Look, honey, Blair and Donna have their kids on the campaign trail again.”

Voting gave me a freedom to create my own voice. I set out to witness the freedoms of others. My own curiosity took me to marches on 5th Avenue in New York City, and in our Capital. It took me to a Ku Klux Klan rally to observe them. It put me at the center of a violent clash with them, much like what happened in Charlottesville. I volunteered for a presidential campaign in Washington, DC, and experienced the energy created by it. I’ve worked a Congressional race in California, and went door to door once again.

I proudly wear “I voted” stickers, and give high-fives to others who wear the same, one of whom was a tatooed, bearded Harley fan, with a big smile. America can be pretty darned exciting. Get caught up in it, and feel your strength in the voting booth. Then flex your biceps and be a part of something bigger.

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

And to you, dear readers, I give thanks as well. ❍

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!