I didn’t think to be thankful for the inky dark mornings, when the alarm jolts me awake and it feels impossible to get out of bed. But then my husband was traveling for a few days, and the responsibility was all on me. As I flipped the light switch in the dark kitchen and struck a match to light the cold fireplace, I imagined my house illuminated, imagined how it would glow for someone driving by, how warm and cozy we must look tucked up on this hill with smoke curling out of the chimney. It made me smile. My daughter and I left to catch the bus before the sun was even close to rising, but as we climbed out of our canyon and started winding back down toward town, we turned a corner and bore witness to the most incredible sunrise of the year, I think. The hills looked like they were on fire as orange and pink rose up from their silhouettes.
I didn’t think to be thankful for being sick last week, so sick I couldn’t move. I won’t lie: it wasn’t comfortable, and I think there are other ways we should be prioritizing rest. But I finally surrendered to the fact that I couldn’t keep going, and put on my sweatpants. I sat on the couch downstairs and binged three seasons of “Call the Midwife,” which is the kind of thing I always secretly want to do but feel guilty about. I ate whatever foods sounded good, when they sounded good, and I snuggled up against the heating pad while the snow fell outside. I rested so well and so long, I got bored of resting. Can you imagine?
I didn’t think to be thankful for all of the weird diets I’ve been trying lately. In fact, they’ve been rather inconvenient, and I’m not sure I feel any better while I try to figure out what actually makes sense to eliminate. But when I wasn’t eating nightshades and missing tomatoes like crazy, I found all of these interesting recipes for alternatives, like sweet potato “tomato” soup and a barbecue sauce with no peppers or tomatoes. It was so fun to spend a few hours in my kitchen figuring these things out, experiencing different techniques and flavors. It’s really easy to get in a rut with meals, but this ripped me right out of it and reminded me how much I love preparing good food.
I didn’t think to be thankful for being asked to serve as an alumni representative for my alma mater—just did it as a favor to the administration because, in this line of work, it never hurts to keep your name in people’s minds. But then prospective students started contacting me for interviews, their messages hopeful and earnest. I ended up speaking to such interesting aspiring writers from all over the world. They asked thoughtful questions not just about the MFA program but about my work, and it was a privilege to get to rekindle that acceptance energy, to remember how it felt to be chosen and new, to appreciate what I loved about those last two years I got to carve out to do the thing I love.
Sometimes, I’ll admit, I don’t think to be thankful for Thanksgiving. It’s a funny little Thursday that I often just trip over on my way to Christmas. The thankfulness I express is a little manufactured, not because I’m not thankful, but because I forget to calculate just how much I have to be thankful for. It’s easy to say I’m so grateful for food and shelter and my family and living in a beautiful place. But I think true gratitude is more accumulated, often from the tiny messages we receive in our lives in unexpected places. So, I’m trying to think more about being thankful, and that includes gratitude for this space and all of you who read. Happy Thanksgiving!