Going to take in a bit of the Thanksgiving Day parade this year. First time in a long time.
One reason: nostalgia.
When we first moved here, my wife and I took our kids, then only tykes, down to the parade on the Parkway to introduce them to the big city. It became a family tradition.
Every Thanksgiving, we’d bundle ourselves up and cart our lawn chairs onto the SEPTA train for the ride to Suburban Station, then wheedle some curbside real estate to gawk at balloons and bands.
For the kids, the train ride was as much the point of the adventure as the procession. They’d stare, riveted, at the scenes of North Philly as the R-6 rolled through. We wanted them to see those scenes, to grasp their luck.
Yes, we were suburbanites, but suburbanites who loved the city and visited often: the dinosaur museum, Please Touch, the Franklin. Not every parent of our kids’ friends was the same. Their view of urban life was framed by the sirens and chalk outlines on Action News.
When we’d call to see if their kid could join us on a jaunt to say, the Zoo, they’d ask, horror in their voices, “Really? Into the city? You take your kids into the city?”
We considered it a civic mitzvah to cart their little darlings into Philly to enjoy things they’d never see otherwise, then deliver them safely home to their astonished parents.
The other reason we’ll check out the parade is we now live two blocks from the route, having done the empty nesters’ in-migration this year. So my perspective now bridges the city-suburb divide.
Just as I long struggled to get fellow suburbanites to see the city as it really is, not merely the dystopian nightmare of TV news, I now have a wish for my fellow Philadelphians: That someday they might adopt a more diplomatic, generous and effective attitude towards their fellow Pennsylvanians in the ‘burbs and beyond,
Their default attytood can be summed up thusly: “Listen, you racist hicks, send us more money. Now. Or we’ll sue you.” It’s marvelous to behold how often the city’s politicians and activists adopt that tack, then are bewildered and indignant when it doesn’t work.
This Thanksgiving, I feel deep gratitude that I’m finally living in this complicated, crazy, magnificent city that I love. I’ve wanted to for a long time, but sometimes life takes a while to settle itself into the arrangements you’d prefer.
I’m also thankful for our years in the gracious ‘burb where my kids grew up to become fine adults.
It’s all good.
We in this region, suburbanite and city dweller, need not disdain, despise and hurt each other. We are in this thing, together. We rise or fall, together. This holiday week is a good moment to let that truth sink in.