Disclaimer: It will never feel right to type “I’m an American” -even though I sometimes say it. Fact: I’ve always been an American, only from South America (Venezuela specifically), just like any U.S. citizen is an American, only from North America.
With that off my chest, I’ve got a second disclaimer: My gratitude list inevitably includes some items reflecting what’s less available in my homeland. We compare and judge, not the other way around. Hence the power of ignorance.
Following then, and in no particular order, the many reasons I’m indeed grateful, proud, and glad to be a U.S. citizen:
- The mail. Yes, the U.S. Postal Service. I adore the classic mailbox and the USPS truck. I hope they don’t go the way of the paper delivery child on their bike.
- Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, in the sense of family and friends gathering to feast and take stock of what everyone’s thankful for.
- The possibility of wearing flip-flops and shorts almost anywhere. My fellow U.S. citizens, it may come as a surprise to you that, in Venezuela, a tropical country, we only wear flip-flops at home or on the beach. I’m not yet sufficiently Americanized to wear flip-flops to work or on an airplane. But I will go to the store, the library and some people’s houses in them.
- Pedestrian crossings mean something. Nine out of ten times the cars stop.
- Public education. Sure, it may be mediocre or bad in many places, but it is wonderful in others. I’m particularly grateful that a “free and appropriate public education” for students with disabilities is the law of the land.
- Good Wi-Fi.
- National parks. They’re magnificent. I’ve been to several and dream of spending a year of my life visiting U.S. National Parks.
- The DMV has a horrible rep, but I’m still grateful for it. Last time around, the whole process of renewing my license was online and took me nine minutes to complete. Soon I had a brand new license, valid for 10 years, delivered to my mailbox by, you guessed it, the USPS.
- Punctuality is the rule, not the exception.
- Kind people. There are kind folk everywhere, but they make my list because, well, I’m just so grateful for the many people who have gone out of their way to be welcoming and kind to me and my family.
- Libraries! Libraries are magical places where musicians perform, films are shown, authors present, and book groups meet. It’s where you can get coffee or grab lunch while you read, do research, or work online. It’s where you can go if you need to get out of the house and spend no money. Plus you can borrow books!
- Community service and volunteering. It’s common practice, part of the culture.
- The four seasons. I live in Connecticut, where each season brings its own beauty and where the yearly cycle reminds me of the circle of life!
- The chance to reinvent oneself. Even though I’ve now lived in the U.S. longer than in my country of birth, I still feel less burdened by stupid, largely self-imposed expectations and fears. I’ll forever feel a sense of anonymity in the U.S. because everyone here will only know me as an adult and have no sense of the cultural norms of my youth.
- Costco and Whole Foods.
- The train. I love getting on a train in my town and emerging at a majestic train station in a city (New York City) that feels like a different planet.
- I’m a nerd who loves to work. This is a culture that values work and I fit in (even though I’m currently jobless and figuring out what my next act will be).
- Well-paved roads.
- The Constitution. I’m no scholar but the U.S. Constitution is a marvel, a testament to the enduring power of words to bring “We the People” together under a complex form of government generation after generation.
- I’m grateful that flights to most corners of the world take off from the U.S. every day. Since I’d love to travel to many corners of the world, it’s exciting to know I live close to an international airport.
- My U.S. passport. It offers visa-free entry to 187 countries and ranks 7 in the Henley Passport Index, which compares the visa-free access of 199 different passports. Again, nice to know I could visit 187 countries without jumping through hoops to get a stamp from who-knows-who.
22. Above all else, I am thankful to have found a home for my family in this great land. I ❤️ this country.
What makes you feel grateful about the country you live in?
2022 Gratitude List: Why I’m Grateful to Be Venezuelan
2021 Gratitude List: Randoms Things to Be Thankful For