Let’s be frank. We should be grateful for so much, every single day of the year, and most of us understand that. In fact, there are plenty of irritating souls among us who, willingly, and without solicitation, share their daily gratitude at the drop of a hat. (Yes, you can be grateful for the sunshine and your smoothie, but keep it to yourself.) And yet, it’s so much easier (and more fun) to whine and mope, isn’t it? Three hundred sixty four days a year we get away with this sour attitude, and we fit right in with almost everyone we know. However, one day a year we are called to task, quite often in public, and suddenly the complaining about your fingernail shape, the color of your living room rug or the annoying personal hygiene of your investment broker no longer fits in with polite conversation. This day is upon us—Happy Thanksgiving.
Lights up on Thanksgiving dinner, a table burdened with delights and surrounded by friends and/or family. Cue background music, something simultaneously calming and festive, with a slight hint of a football game from an adjoining room. Enter the host or hostess, tapping on a glass, with the announcement, “Why don’t we go around the table and share what we’re thankful for this year. Grandpa, why don’t you start?
The well-worn script that follows is familiar to most of you. “I’m thankful for my family, health, friends, new love, old love.” With each contribution the remaining “thankers” mumble a barely audible “Crap, I was going to use that one. Now what? Job? Car? Awesome new shirt?”
For years I’ve offered vocal public gratitude at the feasting table, for things that seemed like a good idea at the time, things that friendly family gatherings could tolerate, always feeling a little dirty afterward for not speaking my truth. What am I thankful for, when it gets right down to the real nitty gritty? After the first four family members have taken the good ones—friends, family, health and togetherness— what’s left on my inventory?
Here is my list, based on day-to-day life, and the lemonade I have made from what appears to be lemons on the other three hundred sixty four days of the year. (Warning – if you are expecting something warm-fuzzy from me then you will be sorely disappointed. When I get introspective it’s more of a room-temperature-stubble.)
I, Kim Luke, being of sound mind and body, give thanks for:
• the dirty dishes stacked in my sink and on my counter, proof that my family has had food to eat. At last glance, at least four days’ worth;
• the mounds of dog hair in the corners of my living room, evidence that we are prospering enough to own an animal and not eat him;
• the massive piles of dirty laundry, which point to our combined good health and need to put on clothing to leave the house;
• the car that costs $1,000 every time it makes a noise, cementing our spot in modern capitalist society and allowing us to contribute;
• crappy over-priced health insurance, reminding us monthly that we, at least, have health insurance (and also encouraging me, personally, to suck it up and deal with petty annoyances like pneumonia, viral infections and sprains and save the big bucks for things like massive coronaries);
• the Goldfish, Ritz Crackers and Cheerios stockpiled between the cushions of my couch, affirming my motto, “She who snacks is not one who lacks”;
• horrible television programming on two hundred channels, enabling us to easily turn the box off, or at least ignore it while it’s on (and commercials – for letting me know when to use the bathroom);
• Kanye West, providing a valuable cautionary tale on manners, humility and knowing when to shut up;
• cellulite, muffin tops, bingo arms, love handles and numerous chins, without which I might have no souvenir of the delicious, rich and indulgent gustatory life I’ve lived;
• boring people, bringing to light my finely honed conversation skills and giving me a little daydreaming “me time” while they yammer on about “them time”;
• ill-mannered morons, shedding a light on the proper raising I received, and allowing me to see their true character before wasting any of my precious time on them.
So there you have it—a real honest look at gratitude from a frequently ungrateful middle-class white woman. No turkeys were harmed in the making of this list.