American Thanksgiving always feels a lot bigger than Canadian Thanksgiving. Probably because there’s so much lead-up to it, along with all of the agonizing about Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming along on its heels. Canadian Thanksgiving, which occurs in mid-October, always appears out of no where, like a friend you haven’t seen in a long time who happens to be in the neighborhood and wants to pop by for a visit.
We tend to think about what we’re grateful on Thanksgiving, but that’s only one day a year. What about the other 365? Yes, there are other holidays to do the same thing on, but what if we were to practice gratefulness more often? Would it be easier to conjure the thoughts on those special days?
I have an awesome mom who is my biggest fan. It seems like no matter what I try to tackle, she’s right there to cheer me on. My parents have always been like that. They’v’e always told me how proud they are of me, even when I do silly things like get a tattoo or pierce my tongue (all done before the age of twenty, I might add.) They were proud of me when I graduated from university. They were proud of me when I got my first job. They were proud of me when they saw me perform. And my mom continues to be proud of me for the little things, like improving my Polish or learning a recipe. She’s always been proud to introduce me as her daughter.
I’m grateful for the ability to cry because, as my friend Andi says, sometimes you have to vomit. It’s not pleasant but when all this pent up emotion lives inside of you it creates havoc and you have to let it out. The best way to do that is to cry it out. Just cry all of it out. Big, fat, ugly, sobbing tears that reduce you to a trembling husk as it all comes squeezing out of you. When they are gone, you are finally cleansed. It’s cathartic.
I’m grateful that my friends are awesome people. Last Friday we celebrated my birthday and so many of my friends showed up or sent messages. Knowing that I’m in their thoughts was enough. Plus I got an opportunity to sing in front of everyone. Not just friends — strangers as well — because the place was crowded for a Friday night, and they all responded kindly. The bar owner and bartenders were pleased. The whole night was a huge success!
Let’s also talk about food, cause what is Thanksgiving if not a smorgasbord of eating, right? I’m so grateful for food it’s not even funny. When I’m up, I eat. When I’m down, I eat. When I’m just meh? I eat all the foods. Food is my fuel. It’s my jam. It’s my raison d’etre. Okay, it’s a lot of things. Even when I don’t have a penny to my name I still have food. This makes me exceptionally lucky because there are so many out there that don’t so I know my life is blessed. Not only is our pantry stocked, but both my boyfriend Phill and I are awesome cooks. Just today I made myself a fabulous salad with spinach, grilled chicken, toasted almonds, Craisins, flax seeds, Wisconsin cheese, and homemade salad dressing. I am a lucky, lucky woman. And I’m grateful that Phill takes care of me as well. He loves to cook. We make our own stocks. We have rosemary growing in our home. Soon there will be basil planted as well. We are very lucky. Plus we get to live out our dreams in Toronto, which is hard to do but it’s so worth the struggle because there’s no where else we’d rather be (except maybe Florida right now because it’s cold and the sun sets far too early in the day for our liking).
When I started writing this blog post it was hard to start. I was focused on all of the negativity surrounding my life. I woke up that way this morning. Then I got to Facebook and realized, hey, it’s Thanksgiving! Author Elizabeth Gilbert challenged us all to post our gratefulness on her page, in our own languages. That’s another thing I’m grateful for — knowing another language. I love that I can speak Polish, not just because it connects me to my family back in the motherland, but also because it gives me the confidence to try any other language on for size. I’m not afraid to try other languages because they feel comfortable to me. I may not know enough to speak the language fluently, but I’m not afraid to try and communicate. Maybe that’s why I like learning music as well because it’s a language as well.
All this to say that yes, it can be hard to start thinking about your gratitude. That’s why it requires practice. Because it doesn’t come naturally to all of us. I would argue that it is the enlightened individual who experiences gratefulness as the first emotion, whereas the rest of us mere mortals must struggle with practicing on a daily basis. But once you get started it’s a trickle that grows into a stream and that stream can turn into a river and with that river your worries and troubles are borne away from you. That’s a good enough reason for me to continue practicing gratefulness.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.