Horton Hears the Holidays: Two Reflections from John Horton

WHY I AM THANKFUL THIS CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAY SEASON

It is that time of year.  Christmas and the Holiday Season are, once again, upon us.  And, I got to thinking, there is so much that I am thankful for.

First, I thank the Creator for allowing me to be here for 76 years…and counting.  And, I thank God for giving my wife the strength to tolerate me for over 45 years…and counting.

I give thanks for my two sons, John – 39 and Ellery – 35, for they have grown into fine, young men.  John recently finished ten years in the Navy.  He is presently working in Norfolk/DOD as a computer analyst and technician.  And, Ellery is working in the Raleigh/Triangle area as a computer engineering specialist and attending graduate school.  John graduated with honors from Lake Taylor High School in 1996, and Ellery graduated as Valedictorian of the Class of 2000 for Lake Taylor High School.  As a proud father, if I say so myself, so far so good for both of them.  And, I give thanks.

     On a more personal note, my wife and I suffer from a host of diseases and diagnoses.  We take a litany of medications and prescriptions.  I give thanks that I have the health coverage and live in a country where you and I can receive adequate care and competent treatment.  When it comes to my health and my family’s, I give “special” thanks.  I take nothing for granted anymore, and I give thanks for all that I receive, especially in terms of my (and family’s) health and well being.

     With some reservations and imperfections, I give thanks for being a citizen of the United States.  I served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 – 1988, and I got to see and experience a lot of the world and its peoples and cultures.  And, believe me, I give thanks for growing up in America.  While America is not without her “bruises, blemishes and blushes,” she is still, by far, the best when it comes to freedom, opportunity, and progress.  In short, America is not perfect, but she is far better than her contemporaries are.  And, I give thanks for all that.

     Further, I give thanks for being able to contribute to the welfare and advancement of others, especially those children and families that are at risk and disadvantaged socially, politically, and economically.  I thank the Creator that He has enlightened and enabled me to do the best that I can with what I have.

     Moreover, I give thanks for all the times, places, and peoples that I “forgot” to give “proper” thanks for.  I figure it’s time that I reflect upon, remember, and treasure all the good times, good places, and good peoples that have happen in my life…allowing me to continue on the remainder of my journey.  I give thanks to all those who helped and empowered me over the years, decades, and half-century plus.  I give thanks to all those whose backs and shoulders that I have stood and built upon all this time.  And, I give “heartfelt” thanks for realizing that I have not been alone, nor have I done it all by myself.

     Lastly, for all these reasons and so much more, I am truly “thankful.”  I thank the Creator and Life for being so good to me and mine.  And, I give thanks for being allowed to share my “blessings” with others.  For everything I want to be, for everything I hope to be, and for everything that I am, I give thanks and thanks and more thanks.

FIFTY THINGS FOR WHICH I AM THANKFUL FOR THIS CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAY SEASON

1.     Being born Black, healthy and male in 1940.

2.     Having a strong and determined mother – mostly raised six children by herself.

3.     Surviving the 1940s and 1950s.

4.     Being raised in the South – mostly Chattanooga, Tennessee, and occasionally Cedar Town, Georgia.

5.     Being mostly raised by the matriarchs of the family: mother, aunt, and grandmother.

6.     Meeting and marrying my wife in 1971.

7.     Father of two sons (38 and 35) – strong, compassionate, intelligent, competent and independent.

8.     Leaving Chattanooga, Tennessee to join the Marine Corps (1958-1988).

9.     Being educated by caring, mostly female, teachers in an all-Black school system.

10.                        Getting a GED Diploma at age 21 (1962).

11.                        Graduating from college (1970, 1975, and 1980).

12.                        Visiting and talking with friends, especially the knowledgeable and caring ones.

13.                        Surviving Vietnam.

14.                        Seeing and experiencing some of the world: North America; South America; Europe; Africa; Asia; several oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, and other small bodies of water.

15.                        Experiencing and enjoying other peoples and cultures…and learning from them.

16.                        Falling in “puppy love” with my third grade teacher (Mrs. Whitaker).

17.                        Falling in real love for the first time at age 19.

18.                        Losing my virginity at age 21…and learning (later) how to enjoy good sex.

19.                        Giving more…and receiving less.

20.                        Smiling a lot…laughing out laugh; a profound sense of humor.

21.                        Discovering “inner beauty” in self and others.

22.                        Giving and receiving compliments.

23.                        Being positive and upbeat, having an optimistic outlook about life.

24.                        Learning diplomacy and tact…and knowing the difference.

25.                        Learning to suffer fools…and to maintain self control.

26.                        Learning from and empathizing with others.

27.                        Sharing and giving.

28.                        Dressing up…and dressing down.

29.                        Being open to change and challenging the status quo.

30.                        Developing friendships and empowering relationships.

31.                        Good conversation…including listening.

32.                        Praying…Thinking…Meditating.

33.                        A good night’s sleep and refreshing naps.

34.                        Mental activity and physical exercise.

35.                        Discovering answers, solutions and remedies for all kinds of questions, problems, and ailments.

36.                        Being serious…yet realistic.

37.                        Collection of vinyl/LP records – mostly jazz, blues, R&B, soul, popular, gospel, and some hip-hop.

38.                        Fledging collection of comics – mostly Black Panther, X-Men, Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Batman, Wolverine, Daredevil, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Avengers.

39.                        Staying active…while enjoying retirement.

40.                        Reading…everything.

41.                        Writing…while trying to improve my skills.

42.                        Good food…mostly soul/Southern cooking.

43.                        Volunteering…and giving to others.

44.                        Good cigars (especially Auturo Fuente, Punch, Padron, H. Upmann, and Macanudo).

45.                        Being opinionated…and (sometimes) able to admit mistakes. (I try!).

46.                        Teaching Black History and presenting motivational workshops.

47.                        Surfing the Internet.

48.                        Visiting malls, shopping centers, flea markets, thrift shops, and discount stores.

49.                        Watching good television: educational, historical, specials, biographies, old movies, new movies, dramas, comedies, talk shows, news shows, athletic/sports events, etc.

50.                        Listening to the radio: music, news, and talk shows.

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