Behind the Curtain at TMM

Gratitude And Groanings By The 'Barbershop' Guys

Thanksgiving weekend is finally here! I'm grateful that I get a long weekend. And, I'm grateful that my parents came for a visit. I'm so excited! My parents rarely catch a plane anywhere and if it's a holiday - they believe I should come home to celebrate. I get to play chauffeur this week and I don't mind. Mommy and Daddy Walker have never been to Washington, D.C.

Another thing we'll do while my parents are visiting is talk. My parents have wonderful stories about growing up in the South — how they met in Chicago and the challenges they had raising two girls. These stories help me to discover new things about my parents and myself. And ... story-telling is the theme at NPR this holiday. The brilliant, award-winning producer David Isay has encouraged NPR to participate in a "national day of listening." You talk with someone that you love, admire or who has influenced you. You ask them questions about their lives and you LISTEN. You should do it. Here are some of the rules - the interviewer and interviewee should be face to face, it should be recorded in some way (written or taped) and you talk for one hour. Turn that television OFF and talk.

I know, I know. You'll miss hearing the Barbershop guys talk about what's happening in the news with Michel this Friday. Sorry, it didn't happen this week. But, the guys wanted to share these Thanksgiving stories with you. I hope you like them. Here are — freelance journalist Jimi Izrael, civil rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar and syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette — to wax poetic on what they're thankful for ... or not so thankful for.

I'll let them tell you. Take it away Jimi!

Thanks, Teshima ... Jimi Izrael, here.

Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist who writes for theRoot.com. He is also a presidential fellow a

Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist who writes for theRoot.com. He is also a presidential fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Charlotte Mann hide caption

itoggle caption Charlotte Mann

I'm a fan of Thanksgiving because I love sweet potato pie, but I don't love the trouble I have to go through to get it. See, my family isn't really into Thanksgiving, so that normally means I am accompanying the lady in my life to her family's gathering. The problem is that when you have just started dating someone, these get-togethers are more like hunting expedition and each family member gets to take a shot at you. I'd like to avoid these kinds of things, but I can't — I'm kind of a sucker for sweet potato pie. It isn't that I don't want to meet her family — it's just that who really wants to run a gauntlet of potential in-laws right before a meal?

Not me.

I always try to side-step the inquisition by posting up in a dark corner in the basement, or finding where all the kids are hanging out, and then trying to blend in with them. But sooner or later, I end up in the living room on the long end of a couch with her mother/brother/sister/aunt/uncle giving me the business about my occupation, my book and even what brand of toothpaste I buy. So what had been an opportunity for me to get a free home-cooked meal quickly becomes Frost/Nixon. These are the things you do for love and pie. Thankfully, I only have to do it once a year.

Now, I'll pass the virtual mic to Ruben Navarrette ...

Thanks, Jimi ... Ruben, here ...

Ruben Navarrette, Jr., is a syndicated columnist for CNN.com and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Ruben Navarrette, Jr., is a syndicated columnist for CNN.com and The San Diego Union-Tribune. Washington Post Writers Group hide caption

itoggle caption Washington Post Writers Group

What I love about Thanksgiving is the food. What I hate about Thanksgiving is, well, the same thing. It goes back to what I want the holiday to represent to my children, and it's not a tummy ache.

We really are two Americas. In the one where I live — with competing dishes of meats and vegetables and desserts — the big worry on Thanksgiving is giving into gluttony. But in the other, the day is reminder of having to do without.

Recently, the US Agriculture Department released some dreadful figures on hunger in the United States. The annual Household Food Security report showed that in 2008, families in 17 million households —14.6 per cent of US homes — had difficulty putting enough food on the table sometime during the year. Worst of all, there were more than 500,000 US families "in which a child experienced hunger multiple times over the course of the year."

For those of us who find it hard to even imagine such a thing, well, that's something for which we can be thankful. It's also a lesson for our children, and for ourselves, of how lucky we are and how we mustn't forget that.

Now, "A-Train," bring us home ...

Thanks, Ruben... Arsalan Iftikhar, here.

Arsalan Iftikhar is the founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and a civil rights attorney.

Arsalan Iftikhar is the founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and a civil rights attorney. Courtesy of Arsalan Iftikhar hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Arsalan Iftikhar

From family, football and cranberry sauce, I totally love Turkey Day.

Call me a sentimental fool (which I am), the fourth Thursday of every November reminds all of us Americans to be grateful for the family, friends and food that we sadly take for granted the remaining 364 days of our calendar year.

From spending the day rooting against the Dallas Cowboys to the tryptophan-induced food coma after several rounds of overeating, it is literally one of days of the year that this news-junkie Washingtonian member of the chattering class gets to go home to sweet home Chicago and forget all the nonsense of our nonsensical Beltway politics.

From pumpkin pie to my favorite Stove Top stuffing, I mentally (and physically) prepare my stomach muscles for an entire day of professional eating. Just like every day of the year should be Thanksgiving (or Mother's Day, for that matter), I still love the fact that we officially spend one day out of the year from our narcissistic and materialistic lives actually pausing for one moment to contemplate the bounties given to us and send our prayers to those of our human race whose stomachs remain empty every single day of the year.

Of course, the American irony is that the instant that Thanksgiving is over, we return to our narcissistic and materialist ways with Black Friday; the busiest shopping day of the year.

Oh well; I am still looking forward to the turkey and rooting against the Dallas Cowboys.

Gobble, gobble.

Love,
Arsalan 'A-Train' Iftikhar

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