Since starting this series in September, looking around for the brightest spots in the news cycle has become one of my favorite parts of my job. Throughout the week, the Texas Monthly editorial team collects stories that, like our series mission statement says, remind us what we love about our state. We’ve written about Beyoncé signing on to play Nala in a Lion King remake, Gregg Popovich and Manu Ginobli being concert buddies, and José Altuve roping J.J. Watt into the Astros’ post-World Series celebrations.
We created the Best Thing in Texas to celebrate our state in a time when the headlines are often bleak. But sometimes, we couldn’t escape them. What could possibly pierce through the darkness that consumed us after 26 people were killed while worshiping in Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church? How could we focus on anything else after Hurricane Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of rain across the state?
These were the kind of earth-shattering events that rip through our lives leaving a trail of pain behind them. Harvey affected so many throughout the state, if not you directly, then certainly one of your friends of family members. The tragedy at Sutherland Springs rocked the small community, the most heinous of crimes throwing it in the national spotlight. But when I started thinking about what to write for this week’s edition—on a day that we take to reflect on the things we cherish the most—my mind kept jumping back to those moments.
Because there were so many times that we could have broken. But not Texans. We’re not made that way.
In the face of trials this year, Texans opened their hearts, their homes, and their pocketbooks to help people in need. When a mosque in Victoria was burned to the ground, the community came together to raise the money to rebuild it. After Hurricane Harvey devastated the state, our most read article (one of our top viewed of all time) was a simple post on how you could help the victims. And thanks to the efforts of volunteers from across the state, one week after a church sanctuary became the scene of a mass shooting, it reopened as a beautiful public memorial to those who lost their lives.
So this Thanksgiving, these are what I’m counting among my many, many blessings: that I live in a state that rises together when some of us are hurt. That Texans are among some of the most empathetic, generous people in the world. That six generations ago, my family decided to settle in a place where a stranger can count on a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.
Additionally, I’m thankful that where I’m from, turkey can come fried. And the Houston Astros. Oh, man, am I thankful for the Houston Astros.
In short, Texans, I’m thankful for y’all.