I'm sneaking my "holiday" wishes in just under the wire here, but I wanted to make sure to acknowledge this important day of giving thanks. I particularly appreciate Thanksgiving, because it basically means I get to be ungrateful for the next 364 days. In a row! Now, that's worth celebrating! Actually, Thanksgiving isn't a particularly big deal for me. Being from Scotland, we didn't celebrate it for the first decade of my life -- it's more of a touchy subject in the British Isles, that whole "colonies" issue -- so I don't have any sentimental attachment to it. For the past several years, Chris has always had to work the day after Thanksgiving, so we couldn't go anywhere to be with family. Thus, we developed our own sort of non-Thanksgiving tradition, often gathering with other holiday orphans and heading out for Indian food. (We know, the wrong sort of Indians, but it's the thought that counts, right?) In keeping with that tradition, we went out with our friends Fara and Paul for a nice evening meal, then came back here and chatted and laughed for a good two hours, in a warm house with music playing and a few candles for ambience.
This sort of thing has becomeÂ become our anti-holiday precursor to the holidays. No rushing about. No food to prepare, no guests to entertain, no pressure or expectations. No travel, no exhaustion and, usually, no overeating. (Or, not much overeating.) It's not a surprise, then, that Thanksgiving has actually become one of our favorite holidays.
When you try very consciously to live your everyday life in a place of gratitude, the idea of one day dedicated to pausing to count your blessings seems...woefully inadequate. How meaningful is it if I say I'm grateful because Hallmark and Butterball say I should be? That said, a little nudge towards gratitude can't hurt, right? After all, Chris and I have both been feeling sick ever since we got back from Scotland and I've been feeling under some academic/career/life pressure -- it's a perfect time for me to feel beautifully sorry for myself.
However, I woke up this morning at a ridiculously early hour, exhausted but unable to go back to sleep, feeling generally blechy and, at the same time, filled with this indescribable sense of gratitude. As I padded my way to the kitchen to make a pot of what turned out to be truly lousy coffee, a thought struck me so absolutely clearly. It was this: all my needs are met.
And it's true. All my needs are met today. I tend to forget that. The problems I have are luxury problems. That doesn't mean they're not real or challenging to me, just that I need to keep them in perspective. I have a roof over my head. Plenty of food in my pantry. I have more things and stuff than a person needs. I have an education and freedom and opportunity stretched in front of me. I have indoor plumbing, for God's sake. I wish I could live in a place, all the time, when I always remember so clearly and strongly how fortunate I am for my place in the world. If I did, I'd probably give Mother Theresa a run for her money. Unfortunately, I also have a healthy ego, a tremendous capacity for self-pity and self-absorption and it's all quite, quite understandable given the world I live in.
I'm just saying that this morning, I padded back to bed with a mug of hot coffee and crawled under the covers, next to my sleeping husband. I had a good book in my lap, two kitties curled up on the bed and a day stretched in front of me with little or no obligation. In other words, it was one of those moments where it was plain to see that, yes, all my needs really are met.
Now comes the tricky part: let's see if I remember it tomorrow.