Let me paint you a word picture. You can let me know later whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy. I won’t be offended. I’ve considered both and can deny neither.
It’s Thanksgiving. A friend of mine is sitting at her living room dining table half-dressed for a family dinner in a classy beige knit turtleneck, fatefully paired with fuzzy snoopy pajama pants. My friend is alone. Nothing on the table but a UPS priority mail envelope, a mug of cold airborne because she can’t stand it hot though it may be better for her throat, and her laptop. That friend of mine doesn’t even want to have dinner if it isn’t Thanksgiving dinner with her family, though there is a cup o’ noodle waiting for her on the counter, kindly left by her mom. She gives herself credit for taking a shower and putting on contacts in an attempt to go with her family for the evening. The first family Thanksgiving dinner she’s been able to go to for years because of work, but that wasn’t a problem at the time because my friend knew her turn would come to get to spend it with her family. Plus it’s her last traditional family Thanksgiving before she gets married. All of this is topped off with her puffy eyes, recovering from tears. Tears from before she went to sleep this morning because she worked last night and was miserable with her killer throat and relentless nose. She knew this would be a threat to her long-awaited festivities. Tears from literally standing at the garage door as my friend’s family watched her fade into the distance and they drove to dinner. She stood there in her half-classy, and half-snoopy, puffy-eyed glory with a messy towel wrapping her hair up because she attempted to shower and wash away any chance of not going with them. But to no avail. There she was, a grown woman, crying, at the door half-dressed for dinner, half ready for bed- as if after a hissy-fit, watching her parents drive away. With the two turkeys her dad made. Two.
Word picture: painted. Comedy or tragedy? Asking for a friend.
One day when I decide on comedy over tragedy. I’ll tell you who my friend is. Since I’m sure you’re wondering about her and her poor soul.
Anyway, so here I sit, on Thanksgiving, alone with my laptop, some UPS envelope, looking less stylish than I like to. Thinking about my friend. And how stuck she feels. And disappointed. And wondering why, of all days, she had to get sick today. Thanksgiving. I can’t even bring myself to respond to the “Happy Thanksgiving!!” messages I’m getting. Because, you know, I feel for my friend.
With my friend in mind, I walked through my house to the sounds of a garage door closing, grumbling, “it’s Thanksgiving. It’s THANKSGIVING. IT’S THANKSGIVING.”
Practically chanting those words out loud, I heard it. I was allowing my train of thought to be derailed. I was turning a day of selfless gratitude into selfish complaints. For the love of God- ITS THANKSGIVING. The next sentence that came out of my mouth was, “OK, we have a real opportunity here.”
How often do we get a moment alone, how much more an afternoon, on a nationally designated reflection day like this? Admittedly, if I had the choice today to go have dinner with my family or stay home and write and reflect, to be honest with you I might’ve picked the former. But here we are, and I’m considering it a chance, a calling, and a blessing.
Now, instead of wallowing, I get to play that game. That Thanksgiving game, where you go around the table listing what you’re thankful for. But we play it a little differently. You can agree with the aforementioned answers, but you must come up with a new one of your own.
I’m here alone, but I know I can say: I agree. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my fiance. For all the love I receive. For my education, and career. I’m thankful for all the support and blessings I’ve had in my life. I’m thankful for my creativity, my emotional intelligence, and my spirituality. I’m thankful for those who have allowed me to nurture those facets of myself. For the low points, and well as the highs. I’m thankful for the blessings disguised as bad luck. I’m thankful for the surprises, and for the best way to make God laugh (by telling him your plans). I am thankful for all the chapters in my life that I have been able to experience and learn from thus far.
Growing up, I remember some of my more creative answers included being thankful for literally the holiday of Thanksgiving. Though gratitude is a goal I try to achieve daily, it’s good to know that in this world, we have an annual staple reminder to take a second and ask ourselves what makes us happy in life. Not to think of what you want, but what you have. I remember being thankful for the imperfect nature of life as a human being. Where would we grow if we started at perfect? How boring that would be.
Right now, I’m thankful for moments like this. When life is put into perspective, and the beautiful fluidity of humanity is felt. I’m thankful for the heart to see even in the smallest moment, from a slight inflection or emphasis on a word, what a moment can mean. I’m thankful that this sometimes-cold world has not stripped me of the vulnerability to act on and feel those moments.
So here I sit, on Thanksgiving, alone with my laptop, some UPS envelope, looking less stylish than I like to. Even if it’s buried in a knit turtleneck and fuzzy snoopy pajamas, I’m glowing with gratitude and am thankful my friend’s sniffly nose got me this far.
My goodness, how different my friend and I are.
Thankful, grateful, and working on graceful.
Wishing you gratitude and grace all year long.
(Comedy. It was me.)