Reverie at Bennys Place

Messages of Hope and Love at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2014

Hello friends and family and welcome!

Before I begin, I would like to preface this by saying this will be a long post. I pray you stick with it until the end. Thank you.

Most years on this day set aside for gratitude, I typically create a Thoughts of Thanksgiving post. Well, most years I do. 🙂

Should you fancy it, you can read those previous posts here:

Thoughts of Thanksgiving 2018 (Centers around ignoring the material aspects of the day that follows today)

Thoughts of Thanksgiving 2016 (An abstract post focusing on themes of the original inhabitants of this country and those without)

Thoughts of Thanksgiving 2014 – More than this (Focuses on my inner conflict with having and those who have not)

All I Ever Wanted

Today, I present to you a very special collaborative post. I have mentioned many times that all I ever wanted for this blog was to create a community of likeminded souls. I wish to inspire with my words and I believe I have been successful in both endeavors. Before I continue, I would like to thank Ira Cooper once again for finding my blog over fifteen years ago. He replied to my very first post and that provided the validation I needed to continue on. I wish the original post was still around with original comments intact but due to a server issue, I had to start over in 2014 and import my old posts sans comments. Still, you can read that post here if you like. This post is dedicated to you Ira.

From that time, I have shared my ramblings with you and I have met some phenomenal souls along the way. It has been an incredible journey that shall continue as long as I can think of something to write about. From guest posts by amazing authors Bianca Marais and Eve Searle, writer Libby Hardy to interviews with Brady Kendall from Alaskan Tapes, I have been so blessed to be able to share so much.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Today, on Thanksgiving 2020, the year of COVID and so many other atrocities, I wanted to create something special. As I started to formulate ideas for this blog post, I got to thinking. I know so many wonderfully kind, talented, giving, amazing, beautiful people. Would any of them be willing to contribute to a post devoted to messages of hope that can be released into the universe? It turns out, yes, they would! The response to my request has been so overwhelming and I am filled with humility and a profound appreciation. Here now is a compilation of all the wonderful messages I have received.

**IMPORTANT NOTE** Though published today on Thanksgiving, there are still some outstanding posts that will be added in the coming days so please do check back.

Spreading Messages of Hope, Love, Compassion, Kindness, Love and Positivity

Before I begin, I will start with my own message beyond what you have read in this post and other posts from this blog.
Who am I? I am just a human making his way in this world like any other human. I am no better than any other human striving towards happiness. It is important to my own self that I always remember this as it inevitably dictates my actions in all I do. Kindness is something that is free and should be given freely and without wanting anything in return. Compassion toward every living entity on this planet can only result in a world filled with the type of harmony we should all be striving toward. Who am I and who are we? Should it all be over tomorrow, what did I or anyone do to make the world better?
We are all on a journey. All of us. The best part is there is no real destination while we are living. Along the way, did I, did we help as many living entities as possible?
If I were speaking to you all now, it would be in a very humble and sincere voice. I would simply say thank you from my heart. Thank you to all who subscribe to this blog, to all those who read my words. Today specifically I wish to express appreciation from every fabric of my being to those who took the time to share their messages of love with the world. I am truly overwhelmed and blessed to know such amazing and kind people.

Posted in order received (again, THANK YOU)!

From David Castro, family friend

David is one of my wife’s dearest friends. David is compassionate and full of soul and kindness. It truly is an honor to know him.

2020, what a year! All of us, everyone, experiencing these times together. To some, it may seem like the end of times. To others, it may be a time for reflection and fortitude. For me it’s a little bit of both.
The end of times is a constant. From seconds to moments, they happen and end. There’s one phrase that has been resounding in my head today, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future and today is the gift”.
Taking a step back and looking at all the extraordinary situations occurring in the world, let alone the amount of crazy I endure in my personal life, I proudly pat myself on the back for remaining so durable and capable (WHO KNEW?). Makes me think I’m not as weak as I think I am. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for everyone who’s been able to accomplish another day in this life, it ain’t easy. Give yourself a pat on the back!
I guess the message here is that you are not alone, we are not alone, I am not alone. We’re all in this together and no matter what happens next, I’m grateful that you’re in my life, I’m grateful that we’ve been able to converse, debate, disagree and agree that we don’t need to agree. Most of all, thank you. Thank you for your guidance, thank you for being my friend and thank you for your support. I will always pay it forward, and you are in my life because I know you’re just as generous.

From Chris Helzer, friend, conservationist, author and photographer

I cannot remember exactly how I found Chris’s blog but I am pretty certain it was when I was searching for information related to prairie plants. Chris runs the The Prairie Ecologist blog and is an exceptionally talented writer and photographer. So inspired by his photographs, I was able to connect with him via Facebook asking for macro photography advice. The plan is to join him one day in the prairies taking photos.

I live in a small town, which has pluses and minuses. One thing I appreciate is that small town living forces you to befriend, rely on, and team up with people you know likely have very different political, religious, and other viewpoints. There aren’t enough people around to let us be choosy about who we align ourselves with. Instead, we have a tacit agreement not to talk about topics we might disagree on and we focus on our common interests. There’s a lot to be said for that approach. In the midst of major strife, we can still find common decency and empathy for each other. For that, I am very grateful.

As an aside, I wish to share with you one of my favorite photos taken by Chris. Those circles you see were made by the grass blowing around and around.

From Richard Nunemaker, friend and musician

I have not formally met Richard but one day that will change. I used to be a web designer in a previous life and I helped redesign a website for a local music distributor in Tucson. It was while working for them that I came to know Richard. He was in the market for a new site and I helped design it. You can check it out here. This was over 17 years ago. I have been maintaining Richard’s site ever since. Richard is exceptionally kind, generous and so talented when it comes to playing the clarinet. It is worth noting that along with playing for The Houston Symphony Orchestra for 41 years, he also performed with Benny Goodman!

My name is Richard Nunemaker, retired musician, still active teacher, husband and father. I am 78 years old and most thankful for a wonderful life that I have had so far and looking forward to many more years. The two principles that have helped guide my life are the Golden Rule. “Treat and be respectful of others as you would have them treat and be respectful to you” and, Duke Ellington’s The Four Freedoms : Freedom from hate, unconditionally. Freedom from self-pity. Freedom from the fear of doing something that would help someone more than it does oneself. Freedom from the kind of pride that could make a person feel that he/she was better than their brother/sister or neighbor.
What I learned from my father (he lived to be 101 and was independent until the end) was: “If you are not having a good time then maybe it is time to try something else”.
Looking back I suppose that I was very lucky that when I first became aware of who I was I knew that I would be a musician. And, was very fortunate in that I was able to follow my bliss. I am so thankful that I met who was to become my wife of 56 years when I was still a young man (in college) and recognized from that very first day that she was who I wanted to share my life with.
For this Thanksgiving 2020. Thank you to all of the people I have met, shared and learned so much from. As I get older I would like to share my “golden rule” for a well balanced life. In all that we do remember the 50/50 rule applies. 50% ego, 50% humility.

From Bianca Marais, friend and author

How I met Bianca is truly a wonderful story. My son saw her book “Hum If You Don’t Know the Words” at the bookstore and wanted to get it. The title intrigued me so I checked Facebook and Bianca had a profile. I reached out asking if this book would be good for a pre-teen and she said yes. More than that, she sent a study guide for it as well. Since then, she and I chat frequently. She has even created a guest post for this blog. Oh! And she loves Elvis Presley! I found that out while reading “Hum If You Don’t know the Words”. It’s a great book definitely worth reading as is her new book “If You Want to Make God Laugh”. You can purchase “Hum” here and “Laugh” here.

It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s been an incredibly tough year for most people. Covid-19 has had such far-reaching effects, the kinds that we never could have imagined back in March once we started to realize just how dangerous the virus was, and the impact it would have on our lives. Besides the fear and isolation, which so many of us have experienced, there have also been losses such as jobs and homes, as well as losing loved ones who were ill. Another great loss was that of idealism in the face of the US election results – the belief that people are inherently good and will look out for one another. It’s impossible to understand the mental and emotional toll this year has taken on the citizens of world.
But there has still been joy as the human spirit battled to triumph over adversity. Many of us have learned new skills as we struggled to figure out Zoom and Google Hangouts, and all kinds of software that would make it possible for us all to be connected even as we were apart. Times Square heard birdsong for the first time in decades, and there was an abrupt 8.8% decrease in global CO2 emissions emissions during the first half year of 2020, giving our beautiful planet earth a tiny breather. So much has been put into perspective with regards to what is truly important and how little we actually need in order to survive. Even as we’ve stayed apart from one another physically, we’ve pulled each other closer.
There’s much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving because as Covid-19 has taught us, as bad as our losses were, we stood to lose so much more. I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving – just think how much sweeter next year’s will be once we can all be together again.

From Dan Danbom, friend and owner of The Printed Page Bookstore on Broadway in Denver

Dan and John both own The Printed Page Bookstore in downtown Denver. When you enter, you feel at home thanks in large part to the warmth and sincerity from Dan, John and everyone that works there. I go out of my way to visit their store and look forward to doing so again when COVID is more on the decline.

Lyman Rhoades was one of the booksellers at Printed Page. He was a lawyer who found a love of bookselling late in life, and often wished aloud that he had found it earlier. He would come into the store in the afternoon, plant himself in an easy chair, and hold court. He could talk to anyone about anything, and he did. He knew as much about books as anyone I’ve ever known.
Lyman cared deeply about the poor and society’s underdogs, and he was generous with them with his money, time and talent. He went with me once to deliver food for the food bank, and I could tell it affected him deeply to see people in such need. Lyman died earlier this year.
Yesterday, his family gave us most of his clothes to give to the folks at the St. Francis Center, which serves Denver’s homeless community. When people die, their books get dispersed to the four winds. Same with their possessions, and their clothes, but this will be different. Now when I’m down at St. Francis, I’ll see someone in Lyman’s favorite down vest, or in one of his signature turtlenecks, and I’ll think of him and maybe remember the time when he launched into a discourse about the true first edition of “The Catcher in the Rye,” or the time he gave his Broncos season tickets away, then had to sue the guy he gave them to regain the rights to buy the playoff tickets. (He won the suit, then turned around and gave the guy the tickets. A matter of principle, you see.)
It’ll be nice to be reminded of Lyman, and I think he would have approved that underdogs and the poor are now wearing the shirts off his back.

Dan and John celebrating.

From Michelle Hill, my beautiful wife and best friend

I could go on for pages about Michelle but for now I will just say she is one of the two better parts of me. The other being my son.

We will be celebrating our 11th Thanksgiving without our extended family. This year being 2020 makes me feel a lot more homesick than ever before. I wish that I could be surrounded with those I love most to help kick off the closing of this most surreal and heartbreaking year. I am humbled that I have my own little family and that we have many blessings, gifts , comforts and love as so many may not. I will also be thinking of the amazing people in my life that I will always consider family. I wish that I could hug every last one of you and tell you that I love you to your faces! Happy Thanksgiving.

From Eve Searle, author, pilot, cattle ranch operator, friend

I met Eve when I stayed at her guest ranch in Arizona. I eventually went to work for her as a bartender. 🙂 This was in 2003. We have been good friends ever since. Eve has led the most extraordinary life and you can read about it in her book “Under Seven Flags” which you can purchase here.

It is all too easy, as we sit around our plentiful Thanksgiving dinner, to feel somewhat grumpy at the state of the country, to feel that somehow the world owes us more than we receive, and that for all the effort we put forth there ought to be, somehow… more…
But let’s compare ourselves with almost any other country in the world – and we will see how blessed we are.
For most of us, there is sufficient food, shelter and blessings of friends and family. Most of us have a job, some income and some security – and if we do not, some of it is provided by a government which represents the rest of us.
Are we not lucky to live here, at this time, in this land, among these people, who are the most generous in the world?
I say this as an immigrant, an adopted child of this wonderful Republic, who has lived in many places for many years, and witnessed much of the inhumanity of man to his fellow countrymen.
Be happy that you are of this United States, of this people, and of this time…
Count your blessings and be grateful… that is the message of Thanksgiving!

Eve and one of her beloved horses Scotty. Have a read of what’s on her t-shirt! 🙂

From Molly Robert, a dear family friend

Molly is one of Michelle’s oldest friends and like everyone mentioned here today, a very kind wonderful soul.

Although it is now a cliché, 2020 has presented so many challenges for people. This Thanksgiving is strange. For many, there is a table that is missing people or even food. It has made many realize what they truly value in life. It made me realize how deeply grateful I am for my friends. We were lucky enough to have a get together last autumn before the pandemic started in January. My friends have a great sense of humor. We spent most of our trip laughing. Humor is the best way to get through tough times. The jokes and humorous situations that I have shared with them through the years has helped me get through this tough time. Laughing seems to make the tension and the current harsh reality of life drift away for a time.

From Grace Duval, my mother-in-law

Grace is one of the kindest most giving people I know and I am proud to call her friend. She took time out of her busy morning preparing Thanksgiving dinner to submit this. Thank you Grace.

IF ONLY………………
If only we could be as thankful and appreciative every day as we are on Thanksgiving Day……
If only our eyes could see the good in others……
If only our hearts could forgive the worst in others……
If only we remember how truly lucky we are to take a warm shower, have food in the pantry and have a soft bed to rest in…
If only we strived to do the right thing and treat others as we want to be treated…
If only we remember that every day is a fresh start and we should strive to exhibit childlike faith…

From Marie Jorge, friend, musician, photographer

I met Marie when I spent Christmas in Iceland in the year 2000. She was a singer at a place I think was called The Jorvik Center (not sure if that is even spelled correctly). After her set, I thanked her for her music and we exchanged email addresses. We have been keeping in touch ever since.

Letting every single whisper sliding at your feet for you are the One burying the shadows of isolation. You are the light and the source, the core of desire and the gift of all sharing.

From Andrew Hill, my son, my light

I cannot begin to say enough about my son. I have such immense love and respect for the man he is becoming. Should you wish to read an older post I created when he was much, much younger, have a look at this. That older post was fun to write as it was told from his perspective. Or, perhaps I should say what I would imagine his perspective to be. 🙂

Now this many years later (roughly 13) he has written this and I am very proud.

“Hope” 11/26/20
There are many things that society does that shape the way that we behave and how we are seen as human beings. For example, society tends to label people as “strong” or “weak” based on how easily they are knocked down from insults or just life in general. Because of this, people tend to have doubts about themselves. It can get to the point where compliments and how much potential you have and how much you can give to the world comes in one ear, out the other. And, because of that, a myriad of emotional drawbacks and mental disorders. But what truly matters is that no matter what happens, no matter how much you want to give up, that you keep going.
And now one of my favorite quotes: “It is my belief that human beings are naturally made to persevere. No matter what happens, as long as we simply make the decision not to give up, it does get better if you believe that it will.” -Juan Debiedma, “HungryBox”.

Final Thoughts

The Thanksgiving turkey has been cooked and plates of it have been devoured. Old recipe pages have been put back in their folders. The resulting dishes are now in plastic containers in the fridge. Already I have been downstairs to sneak a piece or two of cold turkey. Thanksgiving is concluding. I am listening to Santorini Splendor by Dan Gibson as I work to finish this post. As the final words float from fingers to screen it is difficult to not become a bit emotional. This post means so much to me. So much. I called upon friends and family to contribute and they agreed happily to do so. I am blessed to know such amazing people and to have them as a part of my life.

As always, I wish to thank my subscribers both old and new. I wish to thank those that contributed to this post. From my heart, I am truly grateful. Thank you for reading and many blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

This photo is of the Thanksgiving dinner table at my future mother-in-law’s house. This photo was taken November 25th, 2004 and captures the very first Thanksgiving I would have with my future in-laws.

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