February 20th, 2018


Charlie Brown

I just watched the movie “Wonder” starring Julia Roberts: I found it to be truly inspirational and a “must see” for all ages. Throughout the movie, a young boy, who has had multiple facial surgeries due to a birth deformity, overcomes lots of appearance-based bullying and personal challenges. His success is part nature and part nurture: he thrives because of his inner fortitude and the outer love and support of family and friends. If only humanity could consistently function with such compassion. Every day is another opportunity to go beyond our hurtful and critical judgments of each other and open our hearts and minds toward one another. Imagine how beautiful humanity could be with such love and inclusion.

I had another recent “wonder-ful” glimpse of what such a supportive and kind community would be like, during the Thanksgiving holiday. I attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – an activity I had always wanted to cross off my bucket list. What an incredible experience, one watched in-person by millions of people not just from all over the United States, but from around the world! Despite the diversity of the crowd, everyone was super friendly, all helping each other to try to stay warm. Since you need to arrive 2-3 hours early to get a good sidewalk view, with a temperature before wind-chill that never got above freezing, everyone was busy chatting (and chattering) about life, interspersed with sharing their special techniques for warding off the chill. (My favorite option to prevent cold toes was wearing hand warmers in your shoes.) People who had never met each other were springing for coffees and donuts for the entire “group.” If smaller children needed a better view of the balloons, characters or bands, people made way for them to see from the curbside. Our group even sang “Happy Birthday” to a young boy when his mom presented him with a small cake. What if everyday was Thanksgiving Parade Day? What if we treated each other with such consideration, believing in the connective, healing power of positivity?

One of my favorite Thanksgiving Day parade balloons was Charlie Brown, shown above. The balloons are massive – and seeing Charlie Brown overhead as he strolled down 6th Avenue drew a huge smile. Charlie Brown, somewhat like the central character in “Wonder,” has thrived through many cartoon-character hardships, and always ends up with something positive to say, like this one quote of his about Thanksgiving: “What if, today, we were grateful for everything?”

To paraphrase him, “What if, everyday, we were grateful for everything?” Imagine the uplift it would give us all.