After fighting with Thanksgiving Eve urban Chicago traffic and then helping to brine a turkey last night, I began to wonder if I should care more about this holiday. So many people seem to get so stressed and excited and worried about travelling, setting the perfect table, roasting the perfect bird (or substitute for), and making sure no one is offended or left out. My pulse has never quickened at the thought of drumsticks, gravy, gladiator-style Christmas shopping, or remembering Pilgrims and their first winters in the New World. Despite this, as I took in the smell of brine and helped count out mouths to feed for the next day, I wondered if I have been missing the point all this time.
I’ve been making lists of that which I am thankful for all year- a practice I started to help keep me sane when I am overwhelmed, blue, or just pissed off. Maybe this is why I do not feel particularly drawn to give thanks today- I try to do it regularly. So, in the spirit of what I consider to be a very strange, morbid, and kind of wasteful holiday (which one isn’t, though?), I will share some of the things I have kept in mind during this year. My lists are much longer and usually more sentimental. I’ve tried to curb this and limit my gratitude to just fifteen, in some kind of order. Thanks for reading:
1) Inka Aureliano, my son. More specifically, I’m grateful for his perseverance, mental and physical health, and laughter. He lights up my heart. Inka is the person I will always love the most.
2) Independence. The knowledge that I am independent of mind and body, can address problems in my life and actively change them, only limited by my own indecision or procrastination.
3) Travel. My wanderlust is only matched by my lust of people. I cannot stay sane without leaving my home every few months. Whether to the purely American Jersey shore, or the streets of an ancient Moroccan market, the only reason I keep a steady job (other than keeping food in my son’s belly) is to pack my bags and go.
4) Humor. Without laughter, I'd be crying a whole lot more. Laughter keeps the ego in check, dusts off the heart, and it exercises the soul (or chemicals and electricity that make up what we call the soul).
5) Avocados. Every day.
6) Family and friends. Those I’ve loved for decades or merely a few months- I am eager to be able to write my memoirs one day, including all the lovely souls who have fueled my own, all my days on this earth.
7) My bilingualism. Not only does it make me feel cooler than people who only speak one language, but it helps with board games, writing poetry, and decoding the world. Time to learn a 3rd.
8) Running. It makes me sweat and my heart burn and my lungs ache but when I move my body, I remember I am capable of that which I set out to do... most of the time.
9) Books: non-fiction or fiction, children or adult, paper or hardback, books have always made me feel calm and free to live vicariously through the lenses of another human being.
10) Dissatisfaction. My neurosis with improving my own life as well as an attempt to better my son's life (and maybe others’) makes it so I am constantly trying to do something more. I want happiness like everyone else, but I'm glad I never seem to have it just quite right.
11) Women. Women are the true human, the most evolved of beings, strong and beautiful and capable and just… badass. I know so many amazing and powerful women and am truly priveledged in that regard.
12) Compliments. From lovers and friends, small positive phrases regarding something as trivial as appearance, or something much deeper, keep me afloat and remind me that I do not fail as a human.
13) Men. Even though they are strange, difficult creatures. They’re just so damn handsome and always make me weak in the knees.
14) The season of autumn. Leaves, scarves, ponchos, pumpkins, spooky stories, orchards, school, Halloween, long socks, autumnal smells, and everything else.
15) Doing my dishes the night before instead of the next morning. Waking up to a clean kitchen is similar to going to sleep in a bed that’s been made.