Thanksgiving is the American holiday. We invented it and infused it with traditions of food and family, football and friends. At its foundation, the holiday is about giving thanks for the blessings laid upon us; blessings which every year exceed my trials.
First, thanks for everything that didn’t happen. Many warned I might get harassed, driven off the road, or mugged. Others feared Mother Nature would rail fierce against me. Still others chastened I’d get caught short of food, water or spare tires. None of that happened. My journey was rich in blessings of omission.
Thanks to the people I met along the way. Four hundred eleven people, many random strangers, responded to my question. I didn’t count those who stared at me in dumbfounded silence. Hundreds more, clerks and cashiers, librarians and local experts provided texture for my exploration. And thousands of drivers couldn’t help but smile through their windshields when I offered up a defensive wave.
Thanks to the thoughtful dozen who penned detailed thoughts about ‘How will we live tomorrow?’ and the 204 other thinkers who responded to my question at profile length. These rich conversations gave me both a deeper and broader appreciation of our country.
Finally, a very personal thanks to the 132 different people who took me into their homes and gave me a place to lay my weary head. On most of my 196 nights away, family, friends, friends of friends, warmshowers hosts, couchsurfing hosts, and strangers took me in, nourished me, encouraged me, and allowed me to rejuvenate beneath their roof.
I put myself in the elements in order to meet people, and have met fine Americans from coast to coast. When family and friends gather around our table this year, everyone who’s been a part of my odyssey will be with me in spirit and in thanksgiving.