Thanksgiving and Diversity

Attitudes surrounding the recent election make me aware of how fortunate I am.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, my thoughts turned to the colorful diversity of my childhood.

During the 1940’s  the railroad brought   business owners of different cultures to our east Texas town .

A shopping trip to the town square with my grandmother was a treat. Shops owned by Jewish merchants offered all kinds of merchandise. They sold the cotton stockings my grandmother wore every day and the silk stockings she saved for  Sundays. While grandmother shopped, I sat on a stool and stuffed myself with the peanut butter logs offered by the shopkeeper. It was magic.

Our German pediatrician frightened me, intimidated my parents, but made house calls. He over-ruled some pretty awful home remedies and usually had candy in his bag.

One of my first grade classmates was Greek. I never thought about her ancestry, she was just “Helen” to me. Her parents owned the hotel next to the railroad terminal. A visit to her home revealed a large extended family, including her grandmother who hugged us both until we couldn’t breathe.

We purchased our groceries from a Lebanese family. Three generations of them worked in the store. My mother refused to serve meat that was not purchased from them. They always sent food when there was a death in our family and we sent flowers when there was a death in theirs. They were our friends.

The owner of the shoe store was Jewish. Had it not been for his  intervention, I would have been destined to wear the awful Jumping Jack shoes until puberty. Thanks to him, I graduated to Mary Janes.

We purchased my clothes from a Syrian owned store. The mother was the leader of my campfire group. Their daughter was my friend and partner in crime at our sleepovers. We were experts at toilet papering lawns. It was my good fortune that my mother trusted their judgment enough to let me shop on my own in their store.

Now I look back with gratitude at how much richer my life was because of these people.

I am thankful they were part of my life, an experience that in today’s political climate may no longer be possible.

 

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