Many Thanks

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Thanksgiving is a weird holiday. When I was a kid it was a favorite. I loved the gathering of family with no expectation of gifts. I loved the giant potluck.  And I loved the idea that we were celebrating the blending of cultures. As I got older and realized what really happened to the natives on this land, it put quite the damper on the festivities. You know there is no Native American out there who says “Well, it was hard at first, but things really worked out in the end. We are so glad you came.”  No, that’s not what I’m getting these days. But hey, I am ready to be proven wrong. Please introduce new data that says we saved them from a terrible existence of heathy foods, responsible farming, guiltless sex and shameless nudity on warm summer days.

Even so, I don’t want to spoil a good time. I also believe that a lot of messed up holidays exist and we can change things. We can make the day whatever we want. This is probably some form of cultural appropriation, but I would argue that so is Christmas, Halloween, Saint Patricks Day and whatever other Druid, Catholic or originally pagan holidays that make for one more excuse to eat, drink and make unusual fashion choices. It’s our way and, like all wise leaders before me, I call it Sharing.

I’ve chosen Thanksgiving as a special day to reflect more deeply about what I should be grateful for and make plans of how I can give back to my local and national community. For example, I’m thankful this day isn’t called “You’re Welcome, Indians Day” or “Mine Now Day” because that would be so much harder to turn around. For our family, its usually the time we decide how we are going to help others in need during the winter holidays as well.

I know it’s become a thing on social media during the month for people to list all the material things they enjoy. Most of you out there in my digital circle are very “blessed”, I see. Good on you!  But I thought it might be fun (for me) or at least honest, to list 10 things that I am truly thankful for this year.

In 2017 I am thankful for:

Eggo Waffles. My kids have eaten a few hundred of those this year. It’s the choice quick breakfast in our house and if there is poison in there, I don’t want to know unless it’s worse than the poisonous vibe you’d put out when you tell me how to parent.

The kindergarteners at our school. If you need perspective, spend a lunch recess with these kids. They fight crime, establish families, win Super Bowl games and experience more drama than a season of Riverdale all in 45 minutes. Best of all, many of their problems can be solved with a hug and a Star Wars bandaid.

The choice to watch what I want to watch, read what I want to I read, hear what I want to hear. Like most of you, I find todays headlines nearly unbearable. More still, I find that so much of what is considered entertainment to be unhelpful, misleading and even damaging to my well being. While I feel it’s important to stay informed so we can take action when needed, I don’t feel the need to rubber-neck my way through life, soaking up all the images of every Trump-wreck along the way. Thank goodness for the off switch, music on demand and podcasts, while we’re at it.

Kind service people. Wether it’s the check out guy at Whole Foods or the women in our school offices, I feel fortunate to live in a place where kindness is the standard. If you are not living by this standard, you are the one who gets the evil eye from the rest of us. I know it’s not like this everywhere, so thanks to all my grocery store people, the merchants on Grant Avenue, our first responders, our librarians, my mail lady, our school staff and our waste management people. I see you. I appreciate your knowing smiles and corny jokes.

Furry Friends. For some of you, your most redeeming quality is the love you have for your pet. When I see you gush about your four legged family members, it makes me like you more. Our dog, Clash, has put up with so much this year. I am thankful for his smelly head and his snuggly mentality. He’s always, always happy to see me. 

Women. Women who spoke up and said #metoo, women with normal waistlines, women who ran for office, women who went places without makeup on, women who walked away from anyone who tried to make them feel less than what they are, women who stopped worrying so damn much about being polite and just lived without all those unwarranted apologies. In 2017 the women have risen up and I am so thankful to witness it and to take part. 

Anthems, movies and TV shows with strong females. See above. I cried during Wonder Woman and Cars 3, because... Truth. And any time I need to pull myself out of a bathrobe wearing, unbrushed teeth, wallow in my pain day, I put on one of the many great upbeat songs out there by Pink!, Ani Defranco, Alessia Cara, The Pierces or Daya. “We are with YOU!”, they are saying, “And your dance moves are fabulous!”

The one good boob. I am one year out from my last surgery and I can tell you this. I took those boobies for granted before. Every day that I get dressed I am reminded that what I look like can never be the sum of who I am. It’s not who you are either.

Therapy. Mike and I have been seeing a therapist since May of 2016 when the shit of our lives hit the fan by way of cancer, the loss of my niece, McKenzie and general shitty happenings of 2016. It’s not the first time I’ve been in therapy and I highly recommend it. There have been times when I have left the therapists office feeling like a giant bag of crap. I have hated her. I’ve felt worse for having heard myself speak. But we stuck with it, and over time, I have come to understand that it’s the fight that mattered. By simply showing up, it was evidence that I deemed my life and my family to be worth fighting for. Sometimes I think it has just been a good place to vomit up all the hurt and questions that I have. Sometimes she says something that no one has said before and I feel less alone, more aware. All I know is, it can work, this mind magic, if you stick with it.

Lastly, I am thankful for the sense of humor of my close and extended family. I do not share the political opinions of my parents; my sister (rightly) thinks she is possibly going crazy, my brother in law has sent me no less than a thousand group texts; and sometimes the only thing that can unite my husband and me with our kids is a very loud fart. I am so thankful that in almost every situation, we can bring it back around with a laugh, sometimes even through tears, sometimes through the stench of yesterdays burritos. There is nothing more funny than a joke with the people to whom you are legally attached.

As a bonus, I am thankful for you who read this. I am luckier than most and I know it. Here’s to acknowledging that how this country began isn’t how it has to be. Enjoy your meal. Kiss your aunt. Hug your cousins. Love from my house to yours.

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