Doves adorn the staircase to the middle school, twirling gently in the air currents, still exuding the active hope for peace expressed by the students who made them and arranged them. At the top of the staircase sits a totem pole, made by the class of 2019 back when they were seventh graders, expressing who they were at the time and thus, in many ways, who they are now. I walk into the middle school lobby, where soon enough kids will start to flood in, flopping on the chair and couch, half sitting on each other’s laps as they chatter about any- and everything that crosses their minds. I walk into my room, past the Black Lives Matter, Girl Power, and LGBT Safe space signs on the door, and arrange the blue beanbags in a half circle. Soon, kids will half-walk, half-run into the room and either drop their backpacks on their beanbag of choice, whirl, and return to the lobby, or drop down to relax and hang out with their friends as they arrive.
I know we in the U.S. pride ourselves on our small town pride, but I still feel my town is extra special. When I tell people I live in Shelburne Falls, if they’re heard of it (and that’s more common than one might expect for a village of roughly 1700 people), they almost always tell me about an idyllic visit they once had to “such a beautiful town.” Though by no means as gifted a photographer as many of my friends and relations, I periodically post pictures of my home town, and they often draw a positive reaction.
As the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in what is an admittedly tense post-election period, countless families will be gathering together in love and following their own traditional rituals. one of the most popular being “Let’s go around the table and say for what we give thanks.” And perhaps, precisely because of how difficult this year has been, it seems especially important to seek and find that gratitude, and to think deeply about what matters most to us as we do so.