It’s Thanksgiving, and I imagine that in a few hours people all across the country are going to start circling their wagons around tables heaped with food and reciting their litanies of thanks: thanks for the food, thanks for each other, thanks that we could all make it here this year, thanks that their favorite politicians did the things they approved of (or blocked the things they disapproved of), thanks that they weathered whatever storms this last year brought. And I agree–I am thankful for all those things.
But this year I also want to take a moment to focus on being thankful for the other things, the things on the flip side of the coin, the things that are harder to appreciate but which deserve our gratitude nonetheless.
So this year I am thankful for:
- the goodbyes, because they make the hellos that much sweeter.
- all my failed relationships, because they have taught me the skills that make my marriage a place of comfort and joy (and taught me what to look for, and what to avoid).
- all the people who have been hateful, spiteful, cruel, or just generally irritating, because they have taught me that there is a kernel of goodness inside everyone, even if you have to search for a really long time to find it. Case in point: that one ex, who was frankly kind of a terrible person but who used to make a 15-hour drive once a week to take his father to chemo because nobody else could do it.
- the traditions that have become corrupted over time, because they let me have nostalgic stories to share with (impose upon) the next generation. The Macy’s parade, for instance, which used to spend a lot more time showing the floats and a lot less time watching pop stars lip sync to their latest hit song.
- the scary politicians who briefly seemed to stand a fighting chance, because their defeats were almost–almost–as enjoyable as the victories of their opponents.
- this nasty cold I’ve been fighting for the last week or so, because breathing through my nose this morning reminded me of how glorious and wonderful that is, and how I should never, ever take that for granted again.
- cooking disasters, because they remind me of the bounty we enjoy most of the time. There are people who would cry over a burned pie not because it’s a little embarrassing to have burned the pie, but because that pie was all they had.
- sniping relatives, because they really do mean well, and because it’s good to have someone around who loves us despite having nothing whatsoever in common with us.
…For all those things and more, I am thankful. And as always, I am thankful for you–each of you, and all of you–not because you teach me anything by counterexample, but because you are simply magnificent and inspire me daily to reach for greatness. Please know that you are loved today and every day, and that somebody in this world is profoundly grateful that you exist.
And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to start preparing the feast.