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Send us your 'Attitudes of Gratitude'

Autumn flowers

Lee, here...

Today's conversations on the Pew/NPR poll on racial attitudes make quite the dinner table/water cooler discussion. So, check them out when you have a moment, and meet us back here at the TMM blog with your personal observations on how this all plays out in your world.

Now, attitudes of gratitude.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As we sat around the conference table recently, in one of our editorial meetings (we have them daily), we began thinking about how we might produce a Thanksgiving program with some added flavor. A few newsmaker voices came to mind that we wouldn't mind hearing from, but then, as the wheels were churning, it clicked! We really need to hear from YOU...

As the holiday approaches, we're looking for heartwarming experiences from YOU to possibly share with our audience.

So, tell us ... what are you grateful for? And, is there a particular Thanksgiving that will forever be "unforgettable" in your book?

I'll go first:

I was a college senior enrolled here in Washington, D.C. ... For whatever reason, I couldn't get home to Milwaukee for the holiday. It was cold here. I didn't have a whole lot of money, and I was not ordering from the "Great Wall" Chinese carryout on Thanksgiving (not after growing up on my parents' signature make-you-wanna-holler dishes). Well, a woman I once attended church with, her name is Lakaiya, somehow learned I was in this strange city (after three or four years, Washington was still strange to me ... still is) alone on the holiday. In a selfless act of kindness, "Kai" dropped by with an entire home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner — a turkey, family-sized trimmings, even dessert — all just for ME. And she didn't even expect me to share it with HER. I would have, of course. That's when she and her family truly became "family" to me. And they still are.

So, again, what influences your attitude of gratitude?

Looking to hear (read) from you...

And, Kai, thanks again.



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As a Howard University student...Thanksgiving in New Orleans. Definitely "unforgettable" in my book. And, most importantly, it reminds me to be "grateful" everytime I am with family and friends during this holiday season and I don't have to "ask for seconds"

Sent by Long Live HU Memories | 7:38 PM | 11-14-2007

Lee -

Awww, you could have come to my house. Oh, right, I didn't know you then ... sorry.

Sent by Michel Martin, host | 9:27 AM | 11-15-2007

I know what I'll be most thankful for this Thanksgiving. But first let me tell you how I spent Thanksgiving last year. I spent it solo and, believe me, it wasn't pretty. I didn't make it home to Philly and I was too proud to invite myself over to any of my friends houses. They probably figured I'd be out of town anyway so what did I do? I learned that a certain restaurant that shall go nameless (but it rhymes with Hoston Harket) had all the fixins for pick up so being a movie fiend I pre-ordered dinner and prepared myself for a Blockbuster night.

Well, what they called Thanksgiving dinner gave Thanksgiving dinner a bad name. Especially the macaroni and cheese. You know the image that's conjured up when somebody says macaroni and cheese: elbow macaroni, baked, delicious, a little creamy, just a little crispy in the corners of the pan. Well, they had some crazy corkscrew pasta - boiled, not baked - with something that looked like warmed cheesewhiz thrown on top. And substituting chicken for turkey on Thanksgiving? Reasonable in theory; pitiful in practice.

Fast forward a year. I met a girl I really like. Aki and I met at a dinner where I was supposed to meet another woman on a fix-up. Well, the woman was sitting to my left and Aki was sitting to my right. We all spoke and had a good time, but it was Aki who I was most drawn to. We're planning a winter trip to her home in Japan so I can learn more about her and where she comes from. I'll meet the folks for the first time. That part's a little scary, but I'm looking forward to it too.

Now when I compare last year's solo trip to the wilds of the Washington 'burbs and that disappointing dinner to this year's dinner with Aki, friends, and family, I'm extremely thankful for the difference a year can make. So no matter what's on the menu come next Thursday I'll be thankful and it'll be good. Though I'm definitely hoping for turkey and real macaroni and cheese.

Sent by Stanley | 5:02 PM | 11-15-2007

Every year since I was an undergrad (early 90s) we have traveled to Beaumont, TX for Thanksgiving. Several of my mom's first cousins live there and host the gathering each year preparing a huge spread.

At the time, I was living and working in Houston, TX. Due to the nature of my job (teacher) I was in Baton Rouge prior to Thanksgiving and I was going to return to Houston from Beaumont. That morning we (my mom, step-dad, and I) were just about to leave when my step-dad began to feel bad.

He sat on the edge of the bed and seemed to pale. He had a heart condition and we became concerned. He then fell over and I immediately called 911. I then called my brother and told him to meet us at the hospital. Unfortunately, my step-dad died on the way to the hospital.

Here we were, on Thanksgiving Day, my mom, brother, and sister-in-law, suffering a horrible loss. Our family and my step-dad's family were all having Thanksgiving in other cities. It was up to me to call and let them know.

Though it was a sad, I was grateful to our family. They packed up the entire meal from Beaumont and came to Baton Rouge. Folks from our church immediately came by with food and words of condolence. The outpouring of support was amazing! I have never been so grateful to family and friends as I was that Thanksgiving.

Losing a loved one is never easy and having it happen on a holiday is...I can't even describe it. I will never, of course, forget that Thanksgiving and the loss we suffered. I will also not forget the love and kindness of family and friends.

Sent by ernise | 10:34 PM | 11-15-2007

It is always the Thanksgivings of childhood that we remember most. In our case, my grandparents would come to our house, insisting on bringing the turkey, already roasted. A seemingly gracious act, but there was much more too it.

My mother, their daughter, had married a man who was in their eyes, at best, suspicious--an architect and artist, sensitive and cultured, who had never drank beer and who had never, to anyone's knowledge, watched a football game. But worse, he was a Roman Catholic, and his earnings weren't enough to support their daughter in the manner which they believed she deserved.

So that turkey that they always loaded into the back of their station wagon was imbued with heavy symbolism--it was they, not my father, who provided the main course, delivering it into the house in the manner of acolytes bearing gifts to the deprived.

My father was very aware of their feelings, but endured them quietly out of love for his wife. We children were also aware of our grandparents' disdain for our father and were conflicted all our years, for we loved Dad dearly and knew that if he wasn't rich or successful at his profession, it wasn't for lack of trying.

It was Thanksgiving of 1964, when we heard my grandparents drive up to the house, and we children ran out to watch them step out of the car and open the rear door to unload. My Grandfather unloaded gifts for us children, containers filled with cranberry sauce and dressing, and other foodstuffs for the meal. He left the foil-covered turkey for last.

My grandmother supervised, her nostrils and lips pinched the way they always were when she came to visit.

I remember feeling angry with her, for though I loved her, she was not taking into account how much I loved my father, and this caused me much anxiety.

All of a sudden, the family dog appeared out of nowhere--a dog she also hated because he was srange and foreign (a German Weimeraner, one of the first bred in this country), and had a tail that had been clipped in a most unbecoming manner. Furthermore, once before when she had visited, Greyboy the dog had lifted his leg and peed on her leg as she approached the front door.

Now, Greyboy sniffed the air and began to leap joyfully toward the back of my grandparents' car. None of us could move fast enough; in seconds, Greyboy had lept inside, grabbed the turkey by his teeth and was dragging it up the driveway, oblivious to my grandmother's shouts or the sensation of her purse pounding against his head.

That Thanksgiving, we ate the only other food in the refrigerator--hamburgers, without buns, and wondered whether my grandmother would ever forgive my father for this final outrage.

Years later--many years of many such incidents, my grandmother, then widowed and old, fell sick, and it was my father who decided she should come live with the family. We children were grown by then and had long since moved out of the house, and my mother had taken a job, and was working full time.

Therefore, it was my father who, every morning, brought my grandmother breakfast on a tray, then lunch, and dinner. When she needed her medications, it was he who brought them, and held her in an upright position long enough for her to swallow them.

There came a time when no one else but my father would "do." No one but my father knew exactly how to fluff her pillows, or the way she liked her eggs scrambled.

And it isn't surprising that my grandmother finally looked up at him and told him she loved him--for she'd finally come to a place in her life where she recognized what had kept her daughter happy all of her life.

So it is for these discoveries and for the love in all of our family that I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving--turkeys...or hamburgers!

Sent by Cecily Hilleary | 7:01 AM | 11-16-2007

Wow, Cecily. Thank you for your story.

Sent by Stanley | 9:49 AM | 11-16-2007

I'm a 23-year-old half library science grad student, and I also work about 25-30 hours a week to support myself. Tuition is being paid with loans. I'm doing alright with making ends meet. But I'm extremely grateful to the state of Massachusetts for giving me cheap(er) health insurance, because getting it by any other means would be completely out of my reach. Even getting it through school would cost me twice as much.
Unfortunately, it's not quite inexpensive enough for me to pay for it every month. So, I am also very grateful to my parents for being able and wiling to help me out with important stuff like this.

Sent by Jaime Taylor | 10:11 AM | 11-16-2007

I have many fond memories of Thanksgiving, and, of course, most are with members of my immediate and extended family -- all of whom I'm very grateful for.

When my family lived in Philadelphia and I attended college in Utah, I never went home for Thanksgiving (however, I always did for Christmas), but since I had family nearby I was taken care of.

While spending the holiday at one of my uncle's one year, his family invited me to take part in one of their traditions that they do with my other aunt's family. The day after Thanksgiving those two families have special permits to go up to the Uinta Mountains near Park City to cut down their Christmas trees. In my immediate family we've had a fake tree for years, but it was fun that my aunt and uncle would include me in trudging through waist-deep snow to get cut down trees and carry out their trees. Surprisingly wearing my running tights under my pants kept me warm. It was an experience that I never had before.

After getting trees for both families, we all stopped in Heber to get milk shakes at Dairy Keen, a well-known ice cream place in the area, since ice cream is good year round. Although our teeth were chattering we were happy to enjoy this tradition together. Isn't that what the holidays are for?

Sent by Steve Petersen | 2:50 PM | 11-17-2007

On November 22, 2004, a cloudy, rainy day, our family and some friends met at the courthouse in Rockville. We were the last to arrive; I feard we would be late. Rushing into the building, my husband and I took turns holding our Anna, who at 1 1/2 just wasn't quick enough on her feet yet. Dallas, our son, all dressed up in a new suit, took turns too. When we were let into the court room, the judge wasn't there yet, and to break the anxious waiting, a friend started quizzing us on baseball trivia. Finally the judge arrived, and in a matter of minutes announced Anna to be our daughter, and sister to Dallas.
Others have nine months to prepare for the arrival of a child. We had a few days to decide to take her in when she was practically newborn, and a year and a half to fall in love with her. That day, this Thanksgiving exactly 3 years ago, completed our family when we adopted her so happily. We are thankful for having Anna in our lives. The coincidence of her adoption anniversary with Thanksgiving could not be more perfect!

Sent by Ute Aminzadeh | 10:08 PM | 11-19-2007