I love Thanksgiving. I love the spirit of it, the intentional focus on gratitude, the way it gathers people around a table to celebrate togetherness and goodness.
This morning I hopped out of the car to peel a hard boiled egg while waiting for a friend who had run into the grocery store on our way to the beach. I stood there dropping shell onto the ground until a loud voice shouted, “Hey!”
I looked up to see a middle-aged man marching across the lot toward the store entrance. He pointed toward the front of the store and said, “There’s a garbage can over there, asshole.”
I was shocked.
This man, this stranger, knew nothing about me. He didn't know I abhor littering. He didn’t know that he was talking to someone who often picks up other people’s trash when walking in public places. Did he not know that egg shell is biodegradable? Some folks would love for me to peel this egg over their garden – but not this guy.
After a stunned second I said, “It’s biodegradable, but I’ll pick it up. And I’m not an asshole. Happy Thanksgiving, sir.”
As I bent over to pick up pieces of shell the woman who had just pulled in got out of her car and said, “Honey. Are you okay? I can’t believe that guy.”
I looked up to see an older woman with very kind eyes shaking her head in disbelief.
“Right?” I said, tears of anger starting to fill my eyes. “That was just so unnecessary. He knows nothing about me.”
“Don’t take it personally honey. That man clearly has a lot of issues.”
“I’ve got half a mind to put these on his car” I joked, looking at the shell fragments in my palm.
She laughed, “I like your sense of humor! Have yourself a happy Thanksgiving, dear.”
Both interactions happened within the span of a minute; the judgment and disgust and hatred with which the man called me “asshole” – the sweet, melodic way the woman called me “honey”.
As we celebrate the holiday I want to give thanks for the lesson I learned (again) this morning. That for as many people as will judge you or cut you down there are just as many, if not more, who will lift you up. Often these people are our family or our friends, and sometimes they are strangers.
May your holiday be filled with those who lift you up, and may you show kindness to those who cut you down – not because they deserve it, but because you have it in you to give.
With gratitude and warm wishes for you and yours,