This is one of my favorite days of the year, and not because I love stuffing. But don’t get me wrong, I really. Really. Love stuffing.
What I love most about Thanksgiving is the entire concept behind the day. I think we should do it more often. It’s so important to hit the “pause” button, look around you, and realize just how much you have and how lucky you are.
I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, because I have the good fortune to be surrounded by people who really seem to realize their own blessings. A friend said today, “I wish my Facebook news feed were this positive and full of love every day.” I wish it were too, but honestly, I see people making gestures of love and expressions of thanks pretty often, and that’s a wonderful thing.
(Quick editorial: As a Massachusettsian by birth, I can’t help but think of the “story of Thanksgiving” that we were taught growing up–the struggling Puritans, the generous Wampanoags, the teaching of how to use cod to fertilize the soil, Squanto et al. I wish I could be thankful for how that Bowdlerized story ended. I wish that I could be proud of how my ancestors repaid that kindness and generosity. I’m not. I don’t blame people of indigenous heritage for not especially celebrating days like Thanksgiving, and I want to be clear that it’s not the idea of manifest destiny for white folks that I’m celebrating when I talk about Thanksgiving. I’m not thankful for the actions of Europeans in coming to this country. But there is a lot for which I am thankful, and it makes a difference in my life to take time to celebrate those things, and so that is what I’m taking the opportunity to do today.)
If your life is going well right now and you’ve got more things to be thankful for than you can count, I hope you feel like you deserve it and don’t worry that it’s a temporary situation. I think you deserve it. If you’re looking around and struggling to find the things to count in your favor, I hope that you take a moment to recognize what it is you want in your life and use this as a day to start planning how to get it. You can get there. I believe in you.
Me? I’m thankful for parents who send me commercials from the 1970s to make me laugh. I’m thankful for a brother I can embarrass who will still pick up when I call him. I’m thankful for an exciting new job with coworkers who make me laugh every day. I’m thankful for a theatre company my best friends and I spun out of cobwebs and dreams, and for everyone who provided us opportunities for growth along with way. I’m thankful for my health, for my education, for this city of broad windy shoulders I get to call my home, and for the means to support myself comfortably. I’m thankful–so much–for my friends, who send me mix CDs and take me on adventures and text me at 1am when I’m sad and remind me about unconditional love. I’m thankful to live in a time and a place where my life isn’t made miserable just because I’m a non-straight woman, and where, even though I know there is much progress to be made, I can see people of color/people with disabilities/LGBT folks/anyone who by accident of birth is considered “different” finding opportunities to be happy and to band together to make the world a better, more equitable place for all of us.
Sometimes I feel like my heart is exploding with love and contentment, and I think about how big the world is and how many people are in it, and I wish as hard as I can that every one of those people could feel a little ray of that love because it’s too much for me to contain. I’d send it to Russ, the CTA worker I say hello to every morning. To Rita, the crossing guard by the school down my street, who hustles to make sure that I can get to work safely. To Arnold, the once-homeless Streetwise salesman who dances to keep himself occupied and optimistic during a long shift. To the woman who gives up her seat to an elderly gentleman on the train at rush hour. I’d give it to all of the people who are kind to strangers who can do nothing for them in return. I want to squeeze the hands of the entire world and smile into the eyes of every person.
Call me sentimental. Call me soft. Call me crazy.
(Call me, maybe?)
Anyway. To you and yours, even if I haven’t yet met you and yours. Have a little piece of love. There’s plenty to go around.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.