Today is the first Thanksgiving I’ve spent alone. I went to the grocery store and drove by cars full of people, walked by families with carts full of turkey and dinner for ten. I collected seafood for a dinner for one. Looking around, I felt that I should be lonely, feeling sad that I couldn’t be with my family on this day. But the truth is that I was only relieved, relaxed. I didn’t have to worry about chitchat, about looking at the clock and waiting to go home. It’s not that I don’t love my family – I’m just an introvert and crave solitude like candy.
Today, on this holiday of gathering, I got to make my own rules. So instead, I thought about how these people were all just doing what they always do, feeling happy about a family life that I don’t have to participate in. I’m just glad I get to live in a day and age where I’m allowed to be single, not have kids, and never own a table that feeds a dozen. Not that there’s anything wrong with other people living that way, I just think that I was built a bit different – but there has to be some people like me in the world to help balance it out. My family back in North Dakota all actually spent the holiday apart, in their own immediate family circles. With death and divorce comes change, and it seems everyone is fed up with the drama as well, and I get to have the best excuse to not participate. No one can blame me for not flying halfway across the country for a one day – there are other days I will fly back and it won’t be centered around overeating and preparing for a weeks worth of Black Friday deals (since now you can start shopping for Black Friday deals BEFORE Friday, and Cyber Monday is just around the corner… these holidays and shopping events are something else that has never made much sense to me).
Today, despite all my cynicism and lack of understanding, I will engage in the traditional act of giving thanks.
I’m thankful for the warm hearts of the people here in Seattle that have brought me into their hearts and homes. I’m thankful for the people I have chosen to be my family, even if they might not always be there for me.
© Amy Holweger 2013
I’m thankful for the salty breeze that gives me a bigger picture of the life of the world, and the mountains that force me to put my life and time in perspective. I’m thankful for the trees that stand here for generations. Trees are everywhere, and they give a sense of peace, comfort and familiarity no matter where you are. I see trees in Seattle and they can link me back to places and memories in North Dakota, even if really the only trees that are there are shelterbelts. Shelterbelts have their own beauty though, which I realized on a plane ride home last year. A woman unfamiliar with the area got excited as we were landing, tapping her travel-mates and pointing out the window. In my head I’m thinking, “It’s just North Dakota, it’s not that exciting.” But as I looked outside where she was pointing, I saw something different than just my bland, flat home state. It was a patchwork quilt, each varying shade of green and brown stitched together with trees. Quilts are often thought of as being made by a grandmother or some comforting elder female for a loved one. Quilts are sewn up with time and care (not to mention money – crafting isn’t cheap) and they provide us with comfort, a sense of home. As a species, we are pulled towards nature, because it wraps us up like a quilt and brings us closer to something bigger and helps us to see things that maybe we didn’t see so well before.
I’m thankful for my income, which allows me to participate in the rich things in life like travel, eating, and reading. I’m thankful for my cat that provides me with nonjudgmental companionship, with security in the fact that he can’t get mad at me and leave. I’m thankful for my books that tell me stories when I want and need to hear them, and never complain if they sit on the shelf, never read. They can’t cuddle with me and purr quite like a cat can, but books still provide a great source of unique companionship.
I’m thankful for the temporary things in life that remind me of my limited time to enjoy this planet. I’m thankful for the fear that drives my remembrance of my mortality, to inspire me to make the most out of every day.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my capacity to love and be loved, even when I think I don’t deserve it or that I’m unable to give it. It gives me passion and a connection to the higher part of ourselves that in a way is eternal, and will carry on even after time has taken back my body.
Now that this year’s Thanksgiving is passing, the countdown begins for Christmas. Plans are still pending for that holiday, but I have more important things to worry about than that right now, like how I’m going to finish knitting all of my Christmas presents between now and then…