It is one of my life goals to avoid fetishizing things. Somewhere between indifference and exaltation lies a healthy medium of interest, excitement, inspiration, and humility. I believe in the cathartic power of complaining as loud as rejoicing.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I can recognize the sham it is compared to the real history. If one is thinking of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans connecting over a feast it is impossible not to observe that there is nothing for Native Americans to celebrate in this – being wiped out by European diseases and slaughter. Being displaced and oppressed and beat down. I don’t celebrate the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims, were the worst thing that ever happened to North America. I celebrate the hope that the future history of mankind might resemble our dream of it. We all sit down at a table and share knowledge, food, camaraderie, an exchange of cultural stories and understanding. Thanksgiving represents what humankind could be if we weren’t all selfish douche-bags. It represents my hopes for peace and racial and cultural understanding and love without homogeneity.
You are at my table right now. You all shine here, in all your different skins, your different cultural experiences, and your personal stories are more filling than the food we share. You can sit at my table even if you come empty handed. No matter how little I have I will share it with you as long as you sit here with the same spirit. I’m going to share with you the things I’m thankful for and I invite you to do the same if you like. But silence is an acceptable contribution too.
One of the things that has kept me alive during the hardest times isn’t acknowledging the big things that make me lucky. When the only thing you think you want is to be dead, a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning can be the beautiful thing that keeps you alive for a few more minutes. This is how I’ve learned to measure my life. This year I have huge things to be thankful for, but I’ve already paved my path with gratitude for that good fortune. Today I’m going to pay homage to the little things.
Love and gratitude is in the minutiae:
The hummingbirds that visit my salvia and agapanthus take my breath away.
Clean sheets. The fact that I can have clean sheets when I get off my lazy ass and change them.
Crooked teeth. I’m so thankful for crooked teeth.
Black tea with cream and sugar because it reminds me of Mrs. Stemple every single time I drink it and I can think of no higher honor than being like Mrs. Stemple as I grow old. Guess I better master making oatmeal cookies.
The shrew I met in the rock retaining wall around the bay tree in our garden in Ashland brought me into an exquisite microcosm of life. Before I met the shrew I honestly didn’t believe that a mammal could be that tiny.
Bleeding hearts and how they always make me think of my mother, her generosity, her wildness, her empathy, her charm. No mystery why she loves them.
The moment I realized I was different from my peers and embraced it. It was the day I buried some cigarettes I begged off a stranger and buried near the holly tree with some mint jelly.
Music. All of it. Classical concertos, folk, death rock, alternative, rap, disco, the romantics, big band, blues, Mariachi bands, jazz, pop, opera, Gregorian chants, and gospel. I like some of all of it.
I’m thankful for brand new sponges.
Toast with homemade jam.
An exchange of spontaneous bright wide smiles with strangers.
I’m thankful that none of my three parents are boring.
I’m incredibly thankful not to be allergic to onions or garlic.
That I have, so far, woken up after every bad day I’ve ever had.
The brilliance of plumbing.
The feel of a sword in my hand.
That I was born knowing who I am. That part of who I am is not giving up no matter how often I threaten myself that I’m going to.
I’m thankful for salt. Especially pink salt from Utah.
Stumbling through life and realizing that everyone else is stumbling through it too.
I’m incredibly thankful for modern medicine.
Gold finches celebrating life on hot pokers.
The way a medium felt tip pen sounds scratching across a silky smooth page.
Life, even when there’s nothing left but sawdust and stale popcorn.
The way awkward silences teach us how to live with everything that doesn’t need to be said.
I hope you all have a marvelous Thanksgiving!