The steady stream of pictures on FB: Turkey stuffing cranberries asparagus tofurkey and harvest-themed centerpieces… This must have happened before this year? But somehow this year, maybe I’m more addicted to the screen… I was surprised. Other people’s Thanksgiving meal, live!
The lists of “things I’m thankful for” are hard. They flirt with bragging: “I’m thankful for all my success this year!” They get cheesy, “I’m thankful for moonlight in her hair.” Or like awards speeches, they risk saying more in what is left out than in what is included. I get superstitious about such lists. Doesn’t it tempt Fate to thank Her?
Which is just another version of me being cranky. A different culture would find such lists either ill-fated or arrogant. But here in the US of A, we testify! I blink: and the lists are proud and lovely. People thankful for other people. Solid. I’m generally in favor of holidays that involve gathering and eating with no expectations beyond good cheer. Black Friday be damned.
How to generate my own list, beyond the obvious? Beyond all my First World basics, shelter, sustenance, all the people in my life, all the many material things surrounding me… Maybe give thanks for the ephemera, the small things in between?
I’m thankful for the incredibly hot water that comes out of our shower. In novels, people take scalding hot showers only after traumatic physical encounters. I do it whenever possible, until my scalp prickles and my shoulders flush. Our shower makes this easy.
I’m thankful for a new friend who taught me, with one off-handed twenty-second verbal instruction, how to braid a herringbone braid into my daughter’s hair.
I’m thankful for the weirdly intense psychic reading / art performance that I lucked into five minutes from my house at Machine Project, and for the lush imagery the two psychics poured into me, in other-wordly voices, with their eyes closed — watchtowers looking out at the Sierra Nevada, a somnambulist at a window, trailing curtains, the night sky, a school crumbling into a forest.
I’m thankful for the combination of me recovering from a cough, grandparents visiting, and a brief moment of weather that gave me: two hundred pages of a good novel at a stretch, in bed, with rain outside.
I’m thankful for teenagers in tight black jeans who go out on dates to the Los Angeles zoo during daylight.
I’m thankful for how hard it is to get a good picture of the mountains you can see at the end of our street.
I’m thankful for academic access to the Oxford English Dictionary online — despite M.’s perfectly reasonable fears about our postapocalyptic ability to recover human history without the physical books — and I’m thankful for this line, from the full entry on possession (n):
a1500 in F. J. Furnivall Polit., Relig., & Love Poems (1903) 66 That it be youres, trewely, it is my liste; my possesioon and my parte þer-of y denye.
I’m thankful for the spiritual shift in me that allowed to me to stop hating the eight baroque red metal sconces on our walls.
I’m thankful for our neighbor’s lemon tree.
I’m thankful for Friday night pizza, the Scientology sign through the haze, last year’s existential fog lifting, the stupid reptilian numbing effect that bad pop music still has on me, my heart rate at the crest of the hill on Marathon, my dance class teacher named Joe, a very specific memory of walking down Sunset listening to Los Angeles is Burning and getting crushed Jacaranda on my shoes, and the suspended feeling that I get about right now, about how I can feel in the texture or structure of right now, how much I will miss right now in years to come.