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Susan Estrich
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Half-Full Glasses


Like many people, I have a tendency to spend more time thinking about what's wrong than what's right, what's missing rather than what is there, what I don't have instead of what I do.

My mother was a world-class worrier and a hopeless pessimist. If you asked her why, she would tell you that it was because she lost her mother at the age of eighteen, a loss she never recovered from. This was something I didn't fully understand until fifty years afterwards, driving along a highway in Florida, she finally told me that her relationship with her mother was not quite what she portrayed for so many years — her mother was not quite the saint she invoked every time we had a fight. Or maybe it wasn't really that but just genetics, the Nana genes that I am not the only one to have inherited.

So I start out as a half-empty sort of person, even when the glass is far fuller than that.

I have friends who were born with the happy gene, who are by their nature sunny, who resolutely believe there is a pony in every pile of you-know-what. If you're one of those people, you can stop reading now, and go enjoy the turkey, which I know you will.

But if you're like me, holiday times start out bittersweet, full of memories of lost family and friends, of dreams that will never be fulfilled, of time passing faster every year. It's easy to succumb and hard to resist. It's easy to look at friends my age, whose parents still grace the table, whose marriages have grown stronger over the years, whose children all live close by. It's easy to look at young parents who are in those golden years, even if they think of themselves as sleep deprived and overwhelmed. It's easy to covet what you don't have.

And it's tempting to try to fight those instincts by focusing on all the people who are worse off, the friends who don't have jobs or families (even far away); those who are fighting illness and not just worrying about the possibility; those dealing with children who are in trouble, bills they can't pay, homes they could lose.

But it doesn't really work — there are starving children in India, but I don't think knowing that has ever really brought comfort to an unhappy child right here.

So this is what I try to remember. Choose life. Choose to forgive. Choose to accept, to neither covet nor compare. Choose to see how much is in the glass, not how much isn't.

I write to myself sometimes. This is one of those times. I write to challenge myself. This is one of those times. I know how hard it is to break the habits of our youth, how difficult it is to fight genetics and upbringing and experience, how challenging it is to change. But I also know that the alternative can be far worse. I have spent too many sad Thanksgivings feeling angry and bitter, not blessed and grateful.

If you're still reading, if this is your challenge as well as mine, then know that you are not alone. Know that there are others who look lucky to you but who, in truth, are fighting their own demons, just as you are. I am truly blessed. I know that in my head or at least in the rational half of it.

I also know that I have a fight on my hands. But I am determined to win it, and I believe that I — we, all of us who fight these battles — have it in us to win.

Happy Thanksgiving. Let us be grateful for our blessings and kind and loving, not only to those we love, but also to ourselves. Let us see the glass as half full, at least. For us, that might be harder, but it is still a choice. Choose well.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



8 Comments | Post Comment
There is nothing better than a person with a kind and generous heart and one that is an eternal optimist. I have always enjoyed the adventure of finding those types of individuals. They are truly the treasures of the world and I have always aspired to be an optimist. Maybe that is foolish, but it has always given me a good measure of happiness. I have found many of those individuals in the lowest dungheaps of humaity. They sometimes astound me. Soemtimes the most impoverished among us give us more hope than those who have amassed wealth and pretend that thy are happy.
It is of course, easier to be content when you have put by some money, but it does not necessarily bring happiness .Just having people to love brings happiness. Thanksgiving has always made me happy and I wish that for all of you. I look forward to another year to find the wonderful people of the world and to celebrate them and their future. I had two close calls with death this year and after some heroic efforst by doctors, am alive to go on for a nothe year I hope. I have much to be thankful for and I especially appreciate those in the medical profession who saved my life. My prayers are with the caregivers this year. Bless them. Happy
Thanksgiving to all
Comment: #1
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:58 PM
Ms. Estrich. I almost never agree with your writings, but I do enjoy reading them and responding to them. How many people have that kind of talent? You've raised a couple of fine kids and done what you can to make the world a better place. Those accomplishments alone make your life worthwhile. Don't let life's trials get you down. Think of Jimmy Stewart in "Its a Wonderful Life". The lives of those around you have been enriched by your presence. It really has been a wonderful life...

To you, and the rest of the people who follow this blog, Happy Thanksgiving
Comment: #2
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:25 PM
Cute,” life is wonderful” “I love everyone” “let us be friends” and “you are not really my enemy” politically correct Thanksgiving platitudes will not change that fact one iota.
Up until Nov 6, there was hope that the electorate would awake from the politburo brain washing and lies sufficiently to prevent obama and his radicals from succeeding in their true purpose, to wit, the destruction of liberty and the destruction of what made the United States great.
However, the unpalatable reality this Thanksgiving and for the next four to come is as follows:
• since a plurality of the electorate sought revenge and declared itself an enemy of liberty and
• since the electoral system has been demonstrated to be corrupt and fraudulent and
• recognizing that the moochers and the parasites, having embraced the fact that they may vote themselves a living off the backs of the productive, have done so and will continue to do so and
• having recognized that envy driven, class warfare driven, race driven liberal fascism has prevailed and cannot, through a corrupted electoral process, be prevented from prevailing in future and
• having recognized that the great experiment of a free democratic Republic of the people has been destroyed from within by the Democratic Party and its socialist, Marxist fellow travelers,
many, including me, now hope that obama entirely succeeds in his purpose of destruction and division.
Let the stupid, the looters, the thieves and the union thugs have exactly what they voted for. Let them own it. Because by so letting they will eventually get just what they asked for-their eventual ruin as the producers stop producing.
Roll on the balkanization of America into prosperous red states and wholly dependent second class impoverished high taxation blue states all devoid of meaningful private enterprise.
Roll on California turning itself into a financial wasteland and a reeking drug infested parasite ridden barrio.
Roll on $8 per gallon gas and artificially high electricity and energy prices. Roll on job destroying cap and trade. Roll on the endless job killing regulation from the “ban all human endeavor” EPA.
Roll on obamacare and the joblessness, the deficits, the debt, the rationing, the increased taxation, the monstrous bureaucracy, the invasion of privacy by the IRS and the death of actual healthcare by real doctors that it will usher in.
Roll on the $20 Trillion of debt obama will create. Roll on quantitative easing, inflation and devaluation.Roll on a further downgrade of our credit rating. Roll on the day when no sane country will buy our debt. Roll on the introduction of VAT that will cripple the moochers. Roll on rampant increases in food and essentials prices.
Roll on bankruptcy as America enters a new chapter in its history - Chapter 11.
Those who voted for obama may have noticed that he has already started to succeed in the destruction he has planned. Serious investors who were holding on, waiting, are already fleeing the US- jobs are going and will continue to go and the stupid cannot see that for now the union bosses are in league with that. They too want dependency. For example look to the loss of the jobs of those 18,500 at the hands of the union bosses at Hostess. All sing along now to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little star - Twinkie Twinkie union boss stars. Oh what f-ing clowns you are. LOL ! Bet the 18,500 newly unemployed are having a happy Thanksgiving. Not !
Since Lipka and Morgan et al seem to feel it our duty to support obama's policies and to give the will of the majority what it wants, which is to say ruin and total dependency upon the state, we must do all that we can to enable just that. It is now certain that before the end of 2012, I will, as promised, have closed my four businesses entirely. The income is not welcome and there will be the lasting satisfaction of ending that revenue stream for the thieves in government and for the moochers. Lipka and Morgan et al should support me as I join with them in the destruction of the American economy, that they and tens of millions of equally moronic others ensured by voting obama back in.
In addition, because of financial constraint and fiscal caution, I have been forced to fire my obama supporting housekeeper, to dispense with the services of my obama supporting landscaper and my son's obama supporting music teacher. I have removed my business from my obama voting insurance agent and have identified obama supporting local business owners from whom I shall withhold my custom. But nevertheless Happy Thanksgiving to them all.
Hell ! I am totally persuaded. I shall vote Democrat in every future election until the economic destruction is complete. Obama called upon the moochers to vote for revenge. Well I am doing as obama asked in the legal way I know how, by starving the beast. All producers should now do exactly that. And you know, they will find that it is actually true that revenge is a dish best served cold.
The frozen wind of economic and moral devastation that obama will bring in an unchecked second term, the devastation for which the moochers voted, is going to hit America far harder than the Katrina and Sandy rains and winds combined and it will hit the moochers and the obama base first and hardest. Those fools just don't know it yet. But they shall. As to the whirlwind of economic woe and joblessness to come “let it blow, let it blow, let it blow”. Still happy Thanksgiving to them all.
To all the moochers and parasites with their hands held well out, open and grasping, I also say in advance happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy Winter Festival, happy Holidays and Feliz Navidad. That is all that you shall ever have from me.
Over and out for good.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:55 AM
Joesph you mentioned before that you are/were a small business owner that had to shut down because of barry boys regulations. What are the regulations that forced you to close and what were the reactions of your employees? Did they blame "the boy" or did they blame you? Its sad to hear stories of how the democrats are destroying people's lives, but I think the stories need to be shared. If you choose not to answer I understand too.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:31 AM
Re: Chris McCoy
You misunderstand. Please re read the post above. I am NOT being forced to shut down and have never said that I was being forced.

I CHOOSE to shut down and to retire early in my mid 50s.

It is my way of legally withdrawing CONSENT. I do no consent and will not consent to serfdom under a corrupt dictatorship that has made its hostility to me and those like me entirely plain and will not consent to having the wealth that I create being used to destroy the free market, to destroy private property rights, to destroy liberty and to institutionalize socialism.

I have made a conscious choice to stop creating wealth, to end a revenue stream for which I am responsible and by so doing to limit so far as I legally can, my contribution to my local economy and to the federal economy.
Comment: #5
Posted by: joseph wright
Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:58 AM
Re: joseph wright

I agree.

I would like to see the following:

All the people who voted for Obama, who work, take a month off from work.

Then, all the people who voted for Romney take a month off from work. Just stop working for 1 month.

It would be interesting to see the difference.

I like the idea of succession but such will never happen. So the choice to stop contributing to a system of arbitrary power like socialism seems the only option to slow the demise.
Comment: #6
Posted by: SusansMirror
Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:26 AM
All we really have is TODAY.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Dan Krause
Sat Dec 1, 2012 5:38 AM
Susan - your deeply touching "half full" column has been shared with family brought many hearts
gentle comfort...a thank you from us all.
Comment: #8
Posted by: bamoore
Mon Dec 3, 2012 3:12 PM
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