Weekend Reading on Women's Representation Thanksgiving Edition November 27, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 27, 2019

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Dear friends,
Thanksgiving dinner in 2018 featured Arabia china my mother brought back from Finland where she helped Finns rebuild their homes right after World War II, rolls, blueberry & pecan pie, and cranberries - some of which I grew in my very own garden.
I always feel conflicted about this holiday - I love spending time with family & friends and making time to reflect on things for which we are grateful, but I am also mindful of the troubling narrative around the early settlers - many of whom were my ancestors.
My father, Huntington Terrell, was a philosopher and an ethicist with a deep sense of our collective and individual moral obligation to others. He wrote this prayer for our interfaith Sunday school that thrived in rural upstate New York in the 1950s and 60s - here is the prayer in my mother's handwriting:

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Seventy years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt opined about Thanksgiving in her daily column, My Day:

NEW YORK, Thursday—Today is Thanksgiving Day and, like so many other people in the United States, I will be looking back over the year and counting over in my mind the things for which I am most thankful in this year of 1949.

For my country I am grateful that the United Nations still holds the peoples of the world together and that we are still working for peace with the other nations of the world.

Next, I think I am grateful for the fact that there seems to be among us an ever-growing understanding of the responsibilities carried by the citizens in a democracy. It seemed to me that the results of our last elections showed in many places careful thinking and discriminating voting on the part of the people. The people of a democracy can only control their own government if they take an active part in the formation of policies through the development of public opinion and the election of people to office who truly represent them.

Education for citizenship in a democracy takes time but I feel, as my husband did, that one of the great strengths of our country lies in the willingness of our citizens to participate in the responsibilities inherent in life in a democracy...

There are anxieties today but, certainly, as we look back over the accomplishments in our history we must be of good cheer and say our Thanksgiving Prayer with deep and heartfelt gratitude.

We can, I think, approach the coming year with courage. We are a very big family now in comparison with the little one of that first Thanksgiving Day. I heard a wise psychiatrist say the other day that he wished the parents of the children who came to see him would stop inspiring them with fear and give them a little more sense of the good things that prepare us to meet dangers and adventures with confidence and with hope. Many people suffer more in anticipation than they do under the actual blows of misfortune that fall upon them.

Though I believe that we should face our problems, our own shortcomings and our own weaknesses, I think it is even more important for us to recognize our achievements, the strides that we have made in many directions and the growth of the mind and spirit which has permitted us to be a part of a second world organization striving to achieve the longings of the human heart for brotherhood among men.

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I am grateful for all of our collective and individual work towards a better world for all.
Many thanks,
Cynthia
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