I saw this video of Ellen receiving her much deserved Medal of Freedom Award just before heading out to pick up our pasta-to-go from the neighborhood pizzeria. I’ve always admired Ellen, but upon watching this I was overwhelmed with what can only be described as love for her. Yes America, I love Ellen DeGeneres. And, I’m very thankful that God chose to weave her so warmly and winsomely into the tapestry of 21st century America. We are a better nation for it, as was so eloquently stated at the awards ceremony:

“Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place, so long as we just keep swimming.”

Though we’ve never met, I would jump at the opportunity to meet Ellen. And no doubt, I would be as overwhelmed by that moment, as she was by the moment when President Obama so genuinely honored her. It really shouldn’t matter that I’m 60 years old, white, Christian, conservative, pro-life and straight…but apparently it does to some. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I love my incredibly brilliant gay sister and awesome transgender niece unconditionally, though some think I deserve a merit badge for feeling such love. Others think I should be cast into the outer darkness, never to be heard from again. How screwed up is that? Such love comes as naturally as my next breath, deserving of neither a badge nor demonization. It’s just what love does, as renown author and global love trotter, Bob Goff, explains in his incredible book appropriately titled, Love Does.

Why I'm Thankful For Ellen DeGeneres

As I entered the restaurant to pick up our order, I came upon a large family saying their good-byes and blocking my way to the cash register. The matriarch was hugging everyone as they got up from the table. As she turned around to face me, I asked what in the moment seemed like a perfectly appropriate and obvious question –“can I have a hug?” Without hesitation, she very graciously obliged. After all, that’s what love does, doesn’t it?

How apropos that as I was leaving the restaurant with the ultimate comfort food in both hands (including cheesy-to-die-for garlic bread), there was a very courteous doorwoman there to greet me with a contagious smile. Yep, it was my hugger buddy. Reminding me one more time of why I’m so thankful to live in the greatest nation on earth.

So thankful that Fords (like people) now come in every color of the rainbow and it’s impossible to judge the content under their hoods by the color of their exteriors. So thankful that I’m free to choose to focus on that which unites us, while engaging in civil discourse on that which divides us. So thankful that there are Ellens and hugger buddies all over this great country who truly make it the “land of the free and the home of the brave“. So thankful that one day I just might meet one of my true American heroes. That hilarious little pip squeak with a wit as sharp as my turkey carving knife and eyes that simultaneously reveal her soul and penetrate mine.

If you happen to meet Ellen before I do, please let her know that I love her and am very thankful for her. But, please don’t tell her all that other stuff about me. I want to surprise her. And you know what, I won’t be at all surprised if she loves me too.

P.S. – Please tell Ellen one more thing for me. She looked absolutely stunning in that red plaid suit she was rockin’ at the White House awards ceremony. So much so, I caught myself hugging my laptop. But whatever you do, please don’t tell her that I ate three pieces of that cheese garlic bread during the mile and a half drive home, lest she think that is a bit over-the-top cheesy. That little fun fact could blow my chances of ever meeting her.

Photo credit to International Business Times