What I’m thankful for

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In those days, Great Bridge High School would play our rival high school, Norview, in football on the morning of Thanksgiving. This wasn’t just any football game. The Great Bridge community was smaller at the time — a rural community where most people were connected in some way to the school — so the whole town would come out for the game. Thousands of community members filled the stadium. Families stood on rooftops just to be a part of the big game.

But there was no bigger fan of that Thanksgiving football game than my grandmother. Neither a frigid weather report nor a turkey waiting in the oven could keep her away from the game. From the moment she stepped into the stadium, she was all in. Her docile, sweet spirit faded into a fully committed shouting, cheering and hollering fan. It was her favorite way to start Thanksgiving.

I think fondly on those days when we would pack up our bags, throw on our scarves and hats and head down the road to the football game. I am grateful for them because it is on that foundation that my love for communities grew. In that football game, I saw the unity of the Great Bridge community. I came to appreciate the energy and excitement that comes with being together.

In all the busyness of the season, what matters are those moments when we come together as neighbors and friends. As a nation and as community members, we face seasons of hardship, of shadows, of plenty and of celebration. But on Thanksgiving, across football stadiums, cities, states, political ideologies and family histories, we stand together and cheer. We cheer for games. We cheer for family. We cheer for accomplishments. We cheer for an enriching future and the hope of a new year.

In what ways do you appreciate being together on Thanksgiving?

For my grandmother and me, it was a high school football stadium crowded with community members.

Maybe for you it’s spending the day with others at a soup kitchen or a neighborhood outreach to serve those in our community who face great needs.

Maybe for you it’s gathering in the living room with plates full of great-grandma’s famous pumpkin pie to watch a football game on TV.

Maybe for you it’s holding the hand of a loved one in an assisted living home.

Maybe for you it’s the silly road trip games — even when you’ve played 20 questions too many times, and the license plate game is stalled at a short list of Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.

This historical foundation of Thanksgiving is based on togetherness and gratitude.

Whatever it is for you, these moments unite us. They remind us, in small and big ways, what it means to be together. As we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to hear how you come together with your family or your community over the holiday. Share it with us on Facebook at facebook.com/randyforbes using #MyThanksgiving.

RANDY FORBES represents Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For contact information, see http://randyforbes.house.gov.