Giving thanks for the ability to read

photo (97).jpgWhile we all put the finishing touches on our turkeys (and pot roast in my case), it’s easy to remember the obvious things we’re so thankful for -- family, friends, a roof over our heads, a job in this tough economy, etc. 

I woke up this morning, though, with something else on my mind. 

I headed into my study to turn on my computer and then adjourned to my library. Both are packed with books and both provide me with enormous pleasure. Just the sight of my antiquarian books about the American Revolution fills me with joy. Many of them rest in a Civil War-era secretary that I practically stole at an estate sale. I most often peruse my collection while sitting in one of my 19th century English Charles II-style walnut arm chairs, swiped from an auction at a fraction of their worth. Hand-colored prints of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin hang on one wall opposite reproduction images of John and Abigail Adams purchased from the Library of Congress for maybe $30.

My humble yet beautiful library and my study together are both a sanctuary and a passage to a wildly exciting world of intellectual stimulation. On this Thanksgiving, I find myself particularly appreciative of the ability to read -- and ever grateful to my parents for granting it to me. They instilled me with a love for reading at an early age, setting in motion a wonderful life that would propel me to a college education, a career in journalism and another in the nonprofit sector. 

The love of reading has brought countless other blessings to my life, from getting to know our Founding Fathers and Mothers to visiting Thoreau’s cabin. I have been able to teach myself Spanish and live in Spain, interview people ranging from Mexican Noble Prize winner Octavio Paz to Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees. If it weren’t for the brainpower my parents helped me generate through the ability to read, I wouldn’t have met the great women I’ve known in my life, either: A man can only go so far on charm.

It is because Diane Blaisdell and Leonard Lancette gave me the gift of reading that my life has been such a treasure. I thought Thanksgiving might just be the best time to tell them that.

Thank you, mom and dad.
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