Thanksgiving always seems to come just in time.
During election years – and in Virginia we vote on something most years – it comes just after the election season has ended.
This season was particularly heated, though at this point they all seem excessively divisive.
While political partisans, internet trolls and many news outlets highlight the more inflammatory elements of our political discourse and national life, Thanksgiving is a particularly good time to step back and try to regain a bit of perspective.
We are thankful to live in a country with free and fair elections, where voters can go to the polls and vote without fear of physical harm. It’s especially heartening to see young people at the polls, casting their ballots and experiencing the democratic process for the first time.
We are thankful for the rights we share as Americans, particularly our five pillars: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to own private property. Elements of these pillars are under assault both at home and abroad. May we have the courage to defend them.
We are thankful to live in a city with a long and interesting history. Alexandria’s charming antiquity is both educational and a vital aspect of our current economic stability, as people travel from around the world to see our historic streets and churches and to learn about our ties to George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, among others.
May we have the courage to acknowledge our entire history – including the parts of it of which we should not be proud. May we also have the foresight to protect what can’t be replaced.
We are thankful for the overall economic prosperity of our city, state and country. May we never forget that not everyone shares in that prosperity.
We are thankful to live in a city with dedicated public servants, particularly our elected officials who put in countless hours for very little compensation. In particular, we give thanks for the four outgoing members of city council – Mayor Allison Silberberg and Councilors Willie Bailey, Tim Lovain and Paul Smedberg – who collectively have given the city more than 30 years of public service.
We are also thankful that talented people continue to run for public office in Alexandria, and for incoming Mayor-elect Justin Wilson, Vice Mayor-elect Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Councilors-elect Canek Aguirre, Amy Jackson and Mo Seifeldein, as well as longtime Councilors John Chapman and Del Pepper.
We are thankful to live in a city where so many people are engaged with and passionate about our local issues. While there’s often disagreement about individual decisions, may we remember that all sides are advocating for what they think is best for our city. We should try to find ways to channel that commonality of concern for Alexandria into greater cohesion.
As we stop to give thanks on this day of national gratitude that dates back to the early Virginians (see today’s Out of the Attic on page 25) and Pilgrims, may we focus on the many blessings in our lives. Yes, we and others can always be better and do more. But it’s helpful, even if for just a day, to keep our focus on the positive.
Happy Thanksgiving, Alexandria.