EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

Most American holidays have a double significance—what they are, and what they imply. New Years Day, for instance, means just that, the beginning of another year. But it also means reviewing the past, planning for the future, and hoping to do better.

The Fourth of July commemorates the establishment of the nation. But over the years it has picked up a whole host of other meanings—everything from summer picnics and fireworks to how we should live and the current state of American values.

And then there is Thanksgiving, and also the present Kernel Book, the thirteenth in the series. When we started publishing the Kernel Books almost seven years ago, we didn't know how successful they would be, but our goal was to reach as many people as possible with true-life first-person stories told by blind persons themselves—how we raise children, hunt jobs, engage in courtship, get an education, go to church, cook a meal, meet friends, and do all of the other things that make up daily experience.

And we wanted to do it in such a way that the average member of the sighted public would read and be interested. The results have been better than we could possibly have hoped. More than three million of the Kernel Books are now in circulation, and I rarely travel anywhere in the country without being approached by someone who has read them and wants to talk about them or ask questions.

As to the present volume, Wall-to-Wall Thanksgiving, it is much like what has gone before. It tells about blind people as they live and work.

What does a blind boy do to earn summer spending money, and what do his sighted parents expect of him? What of the Viet Nam veteran who loses his sight in the war and comes home to build a new life? And what about the self-conscious child and young man with a little bit of sight who is ashamed of blindness and yet has to live with it?

What of the small details that come together to make the days that form the years—learning to ride a bicycle, cook a steak, read a book, get a job? This is what Wall-to-Wall Thanksgiving is about. I know the people who appear in its pages. They are friends of mine. Some have been my students. All of them are fellow participants in the work of the National Federation of the Blind.

If you wonder why so many of us give our time and effort to the Federation, it is because the Federation has played such an important part in making life better for us. In fact, the National Federation of the Blind has done more than any other single thing to improve the quality of life for blind persons in the twentieth century. It is blind persons coming together to help each other and do for themselves. That does not mean that we don't want or need help from our sighted friends and associates, for we do. But it does mean that we think we ought to try to help ourselves before we ask others for assistance. And we should also give as well as take. All of this is what the National Federation of the Blind stands for and means.

I have edited the Kernel Books from the beginning, and I have contributed a story to each of them. My present offering deals with help I have received from sighted people. Sometimes my reactions have been appropriate and mature; sometimes not. As you read what I have written, you will see that my views have changed as I have grown older. Perhaps the title of my submission, Don't Throw the Nickel, sums it up.

As to the title of this thirteenth volume in the Kernel Book series, Wall-to-Wall Thanksgiving, it is taken from the story of the same name by Barbara Pierce. But like the holidays, it has more than a single meaning. With all of the difficulties we have had and with all of the problems we currently experience, we who are blind have more reason for Thanksgiving now than ever before in history.

Unlike many in today's society, we do not think of ourselves as victims, and we feel that our future is bright with promise. That is so because we intend to work to make it so, and because more and more sighted people are joining our cause and helping make it happen.

I hope you will enjoy this book and that it will give you worthwhile information.

Kenneth Jernigan
Baltimore, Maryland
1997

Why Large Type

The type size in this book is 14 point for two important reasons: One, because typesetting of 14 point or larger complies with federal standards for the printing of materials for visually impaired readers, and we want to show you exactly what type size is necessary for people with limited sight.

The second reason is that many of our friends and supporters have asked us to print our paperback books in 14 point type so they too can easily read them. Many people with limited sight do not use Braille. We hope that by printing this book in a larger type than customary, many more people will be able to benefit from it.