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Nov 21, 2023

It’s that time of year again. The emotions, expectations and traditional series of events converge for six weeks to make up what we refer to as “the holidays.” Viewing the goings on around us this opening week of the season might lead one to believe that we all sort of, kind of approach Round One the same way. But obviously, we don’t.

Thanksgiving is the greatest American holiday. As it exists today, there is little in the way of religion driving the tradition, a feature of which I am particularly fond. That wasn’t always the case, and I will thank Thomas Jefferson for the church-free atmosphere of this week’s celebration. Apparently, he refused to endorse the tradition, due to his unwavering view of how church and state should remain separate. Thanks, TJ.

Today, the fourth Thursday of November has no space left for church or state. What, with football and food binges dominating the day, who has room for any spiritual cleansing? Actually, all of us.

Take Blake Corum for example. I don’t often write or speak glowingly about a star football player for the University of Michigan. Often? Ever is more like it. But Corum’s Sunday-before-Thanksgiving tradition caught my eye. The senior running back spends that day giving away turkeys to families in need using some of the money he makes from the use of his name, identity, and likeness, or NIL. In 2021, he donated and delivered 200 turkeys. Last year, he upped it to 300. And on Sunday, he doubled it to 600, this year in the Ypsilanti area, east of Ann Arbor.

“This is my purpose,” Corum said Sunday. The day before, he carried the ball 28 times in Michigan’s win over Maryland. This coming Saturday, he’ll play in the biggest game of his life against Ohio State, a game devotees of the Big Ten Conference likely consider the national championship. I know I do.

It’s a charitable gesture. It’s not all that unusual. Yea, he’s got a lot going on at the moment and it would be easier to focus on that moment, instead of focusing on others. But I believe him when he says giving is his purpose.

The news of the weekend was the passing of one of the planet’s most notorious givers. Former First Lady, Rosalyn Carter, was admitted to hospice care on Saturday, and died on Sunday. She was 96. She and former President Jimmy Carter were married for 77 years, and as any married person can attest, that alone defines a life full of giving.

But she and her husband are the standard, the modern example by which all other givers should be compared. They both gave until their dying days, with the type of enthusiasm and grace that made it clear that it was their purpose too.


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