Giving Thanks in 2020 and Simon’s List

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GIVING THANKS in 2020

 

Some might say that’s a tall order but I think the tough times define us. I’ve been so blessed that this is the first Thanksgiving in 21 years when I will not have all of my children home.

I still believe Thanksgiving is the last great holiday! No gifts, no social obligations, just family food and fun. Ok, and maybe more food. It also reminds me of the country’s humble beginnings and something more important. That I should sit down and reflect on the year, and what I should be thankful for. It’s easy to lose sight of the liberties and bounty we enjoy in the United States when we’re living in a pandemic and blasted with statistics 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The media after all is a business.

Yet, the sun set and the sun rose again and my son graduated from high school this past May, then my husband and Norah worked from home. And life, lucky for us, went on. I am thankful for healthcare professionals across the country and for family and friends in the field – Mino, Lien, Yvette & Craig, Kate, Eduardo, Monique, Colleen, Sean. And so many I forgot to mention. Not just for the pandemic, but for who they are, the oath they took to look after and care for others. I’m also thankful to the business owners and the struggle and loss they have borne with grace and courage.

 

With Honors

I don’t know why but this had me thinking about the 1994 film With Honors, starring Brandon Fraser and Joe Pesci. Maybe because of the broad impact of the pandemic this year and its personal change in our lives, we must reckon with what is important. That, on some grand scale, can be funneled down into this simple idea, the foundation of this story. And, I love Pesci.

Monty, or Fraser, is working on his end-all-be-all thesis at Harvard when his computer crashes. HA! Remember those days before the cloud and external drives? Stressed, Monty takes his only paper copy off to make photocopies but drops it in the grate where Simon, played by Pesci, finds it. Simon’s a bum, a vagabond, but a smart one who lives in the annals of Cambridge. So, begins the relationship between Monty and Simon who barters pages for food and accommodations during the cold, long New England winter. Monty learns that honor has more to do with life and his humanity than his thesis or grades or, GASP, Harvard. In a scene when Monty is searching for Simon, he finds a friend who shares one final message, along with his once-coveted thesis.

I have had a note to myself to find this particular passage and to read it again, to get it down, because it spoke to me, a reader of books, an eater of words and pages and knowledge. And, I wanted to share it here with you. Simon called Monty, Harvard, so that’s what his homeless friend calls him too. When the friend asks Don’t you want this, this refers to the thesis which is how the whole connection to Simon started.

Here’s the exchange from the scene. [Link to moviescripts.com]

 

GUEST:  Are you Harvard?

MONTY:  – That’s my blanket.

GUEST:  – It’s Simon’s.

He gave it to me for keeping this safe.

I’m to give this to you and a message.

But first he said you’d give me

something to eat.

Said it shouldn’t be roughage.

MONTY: Come on in.

Have a seat.

I was having a sandwich.

Ham and cheese, okay?

GUEST: With mustard.

MONTY:  So, what’s the message?

GUEST: Don’t you want this?

Simon said you think Christ died for this!

MONTY: Just leave it on the table.

So, what’s his message?

GUEST:  Here!

gotta get this right.

Now this is Simon Wilder’s message here.

”You shall no longer take things

at second or third hand.

”Nor look through the eyes of the dead.

”Nor feed on the specters in books.

”You shall not look through my eyes either,

or take things from me.

”You shall listen to all sides…

”…and filter them from yourself.”

That’s it.

 

SIMON’s Message for Monty

 

I love this and am thankful for its wisdom. It is more important than ever I think with so many sources for information, to not take things second or third hand, as gossip, or because someone wrote it somewhere, or from a friend or expert or reporter or stranger.  But you SHALL listen to all sides and then filter them for yourself.

Thank you to all the healthcare professionals, to the business owners, to friends, to family.

Wishing you a safe and restful Thanksgiving full of friendship and food and fun.

 

Click here to view Scene of Simon’s Message

About mylinhshattan

MyLinh B. Shattan is a writer who has worked in the private sector, taught at college, and served in the U.S. Army. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from West Point, an M.B.A. from Florida Southern College, and an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University.