Giving Thanks when Thanks are Hard
By Eric Segall
Thanksgiving has always been a special time for my family. My mother's birthday was November 22, and my parent's anniversary was November 25. My mother passed away a few years ago but my dad is still going strong at 91. Thanksgiving was our one sacred time time together when my brother and sister's families as well as mine would all get together with our parents. This is the first Thanksgiving I won't spend with my siblings and at least one of my parents in decades. Like millions of Americans we will zoom, but it will not be close to the same. Giving thanks can be hard.
Nothing in 2020 has been the same. Trump, the pandemic, George Floyd, and numerous other sad events have changed our lives dramatically. There has been a twitter saying since shortly after Trump was elected that "there is no bottom." That is true of Trump and his enablers, but not for America, and eventually the pandemic will pass and racial injustice will slowly get better.
So even though is is hard, I'd like to say in this post what I am thankful for in addition to of course my family, friends, and colleagues. Without them, there really would be no bottom, especially my family. Lynne and my three daughters make me smile every day, and they have been amazing during these arduous 8 months or four years depending on how you count.
I am thankful for my students who have graciously accepted my substantial limitations as a virtual law professor. I taught constitutional law this semester virtually to about 70 students. I was okay at best but they were awesome. Occasionally I'd bring stories of my two 80 pounds labs into the conversation and encourage my students to show their pets virtually. Many of my students follow me on twitter and see how often I post pics of Lucy and Sweeney. At the beginning of my last class, my students had their dogs, cats, and even a rabbit on their laps when I started the virtual class. I was really touched.
I am thankful that America is still a place where we can say anything we want about our government and our leaders, no matter how critical, and not fear arrest or intimidation. We often take that liberty for granted, but we should not. And, I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't just a tad thankful that so many people in my field are finally recognizing what an oversized role the Supreme Court plays in our lives. Baby steps. but they're coming.
I am thankful that when I order food from our favorite very busy Thai restaurant, and I walk in masked to pay, they recognize me and call me by my first name. A little bit of Cheers during a pandemic doesn't hurt.
I am thankful for Stacey Abrams. Her energy, drive, smarts, and indomitable spirit turned my state from red to blue in the presidential election. She deserves to be the next governor of Georgia, which would make her the first Black Female governor of any state. We are so ready for this to happen, especially south of the Mason-Dixie line.
I spend a lot of time on twitter (too much time). There are a few folks whose politics differ from mine but with whom I enjoy and learn from because we are able to make fun of ourselves and not take the politics too seriously. I enjoy arguing with people when we know it is not personal. I am thankful I have had that opportunity with Professor Chris Green, @Greg651 whose last name I do not know, Evan Bernick, Clark Nelly, and Father Bill Dailey, from whom I learn a lot, among many others. I should also say that I am thankful for Scott Shapiro's tweets, which make me laugh every day.
This will likely sound ridiculous (have I mentioned this is a hard year for thanks), but I am grateful for Bill Simmons. For those who don't know who he is, Simmons was just a fan like the rest of us before he wrote the best book on the NBA ever written. He eventually parlayed that into a podcasting empire that covers, sports, movies and other topics. His rewatchable podcasts on movies are entertaining and smart (the one on Spotlight made me tear up) while of course his weekly sports podcasts are as good as they get.
I am thankful for Mike who runs this blog and gives me the opportunity to spread my views on why the Court is not a court, why originalism is a matter of faith (not law or logic), and all kinds of other topics legal and non-legal. Mike reads every draft and often makes suggestions that improve my ideas and my writing. I am very grateful that I get to collaborate with him on a weekly basis.
Perhaps prematurely but hopefully not, I am thankful that Donald Trump will soon be out of our government. I will ignore his tweets and whatever new media organization he creates to spread his lies and insults. I will not watch him on TV or social media. He may even go to jail, which is where he belongs.
When he goes, there will still be the pandemic, polarization, racial injustice, and a wrecked economy for many if not most Americans. I believe we can face those challenges, and I am thankful that I can hope and believe we will be a stronger country for having lived through the Trump era. Hopefully, the left, right, and center can start working together again and find some solutions to our common problems. Biden should pick at least one or two Republicans for his cabinet. I am cautiously hopeful.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and, for one day at least, think about what you are thankful for, even when giving thanks feels so hard. It's worth it.