We're not going anywhere for Thanksgiving. That's nothing new; we don't usually travel because both of our families are too far away to conveniently get to in a four-day weekend. But I always want to get together with friends, because turkeys are large and because I feel Thanksgiving is the ultimate day for hospitality. I like hosting and I like having more dishes on the table than one person could conceivably make.
But, sad as it is to admit it, this is not the year for it. Schools and work are, for the most part, open, and that makes additional gatherings that much riskier. If everyone went nowhere but Thanksgiving dinner, one virus case could infect a dozen people. But if everyone at the dinner goes back to school and work on Monday and doesn't stop attending till they actually feel sick, they may start a virus cluster than infects hundreds. Here is a risk assessment tool showing your odds that someone at your feast will be COVID-positive.
But, you know, the real meaning of the holiday isn't guests or turkey or even fictionalized school plays about Native Americans. It's right in the name, thanks giving. You can give thanks at all times, because there is always something to celebrate. The first Thanksgiving holidays were established at difficult times: George Washington proclaimed one soon after the Revolutionary War; Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War. At a time of national crisis, it can be good to look at what we still have; what we are trying to preserve.
To that end, here's a list of things I'm thankful for this year:
1. Our health. We haven't had COVID so far and I'm so glad.
2. Work. John hasn't lost his job, despite economic struggles across the country, and I have gotten a very small part-time job which is exactly the size I can handle right now. And it's writing, which means I'm getting paid to write for the first time in my life. A lifelong dream.
3. Our families are well.
4. The boys have adjusted so well to virtual school.
5. The girls have been able to go to school and I feel it's being handled safely for the most part.
6. Jackie got into Head Start preschool, despite not really meeting any of the qualifications, because a kind school administrator saw that it would be helpful for her.
7. Jackie's doing really well at it too.
8. After a week or two of utter paralysis at the start of the pandemic, I got back my writing mojo, finished one novel, and started the sequel.
9. I have many wonderful friends, whom I'm able to connect with online all the time. Honestly, because of Jackie's social anxiety, I'd felt quarantined for years. Now that nobody else can go out either, people are meeting me in a space that's open to me.
10. I've started exercising daily and my health is much better. I have more energy and fewer headaches.
11. We have never run out of toilet paper ;) or food.
12. Some of our friends walk by our house often and we shout across the lawn.
13. I've done some great crafting lately.
14. I found a sweatshirt to replace my old raggedy sweatshirt, which fits all my extremely picky requirements.
15. Our house is warm as the weather gets colder.
16. WE ELECTED JOE BIDEN
17. Two coronavirus vaccines have proven effective and will probably be available within months.
18. Our school district is providing breakfast and lunch at no cost to every child in the district, in or out of school. Those food deliveries make a big difference for a lot of local families.
19. The three older kids get along really well most of the time. Yesterday they spent an hour pretending to be an opossum family without a quarrel between them. And when I tell them to do things . . . they mostly do it? It's wild.
20. I sleep through the night pretty often. I'd say like four nights a week? Jackie is nightwaking more than her siblings did at almost four, but she's not waking every night, and most nights she does wake, she goes back to sleep within half an hour.
21. I'M NOT PREGNANT
22. I repeat, not pregnant. It's super. It's the best thing. I haven't had my body to myself this long since 2009. I can lift my groceries into the car without hurting my back. I can eat everything without getting sick. I'm not in random, untreatable pain. I can take ibuprofen. I can get off the couch easily. I can tie my shoes. I never appreciated these things before.
23. All of our appliances work. It's like living in a house staffed by robot servants.
24. We get beautiful sunsets in the winter, with the leaves off the trees.
25. I learned how to make homemade noodles for lo mein and we eat that often. I like kneading things.
26. We got our chimneys inspected and can have fires in the fireplace whenever we want.
27. Our mental health is doing pretty well, considering. I love the way all of my friends are aware of it and ask about each other's emotional state. We trade self-care tips.
28. Animal Crossing. It's fun. I have all nice people on my island.
29. Star Trek: Lower Decks. It's hilarious and full of fan inside jokes. Highly recommend.
30. My breath is going in and out, every moment, without my even having to think about it. I'm happy to be alive. I feel a little guilty to be alive when so many haven't survived this year, but me feeling bad doesn't bring anyone back. Rather, I think it gives me a motive to drink life to the lees. I want to exist deeply in each moment when I am lucky enough to be alive.
What are you thankful for, this Thanksgiving?