Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Came a Little Early This Year

You know it’s a crazy week for me when I don’t even participate in YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday! It felt like I was strapped into an emotional rollercoaster with a few ups and plenty of downs (which I like on an ACTUAL rollercoaster, btw).

Oddly, despite the setbacks, I’ve been practically singing all week, my head held high and a smile on my face. See, I signed up to send a Thanksgiving package to a platoon in Afghanistan through Adopt A Platoon. AAP had a list of suggested things to include in the package, including a list of things you’re thankful for.

There were 30 men in the platoon, so I decided to come up with 30 things. It was hard at first. Y’all know I’m not the most sentimental person in the world. Except for the really big things, I don’t tend to see life in shades of what-I’m-grateful-for and what-I-wish-was-better, but rather this-is-what-it-is and this-is-what-it-isn’t. But the more things I put on the list, the more I wanted to put on it. I didn’t want to stop at 30. (but I did! Hey, it’s NaNoWriMo, I don’t have time for everything.) Nothing was too small to put on the list. I stayed away from the clichéd “my health and my family,” not because I’m not thankful for those things, but because they’re general and everybody says them – I wanted to be specific.

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”  ~Robert Caspar Lintner

  1. electricity

  2. running water that’s safe to drink

  3. that I was able to go to college and choose my degree

  4. the freedom to write and read anything I like

  5. puppies

  6. I can walk, run, skip and dance

  7. friends who will come over with a bottle of wine and/or chocolate ice cream at any time of night if I’m feeling down

  8. fingerless gloves

  9. air-conditioning

  10. chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven

  11. Irish folk-rock music

  12. my sister & best friend

  13. my family supports my dreams

  14. a steady paycheck that covers all my needs

  15. air flight

  16. a complete lack of allergies

  17. I can sleep safely in my bed at night

  18. people who love me

  19. the internet

  20. people who honestly try to make the world even a little bit better

  21. artistic expression, both mine and others’

  22. engineers, who design everything we use but never get the thanks

  23. access to basic medicine and healthcare

  24. my eyes can see and my ears can hear

  25. lavender-scented anything

  26. policemen, firefighters, soldiers and everyone else who risk their lives and don’t get paid enough

  27. stores entirely dedicated to office supplies

  28. the invention of the printing press

  29. washing machines & dishwashers

  30. bubble gum

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This is when it hit me: I have a really great life. Then I began to wonder, does everyone else realize this? In general, most of the people I know also have it pretty good. I only ever hear people complain (I’m not judging, I do it too. We all do it, it’s part of who we are as humans), but I wanted to know what others were grateful for.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~Thornton Wilder

And thanks to the internet (#19), I was able to ask. I put this message out on Twitter and Facebook:

“Working on a little project. Tell me please, what are you thankful for??”

The responses? (with my comments)

  • “I’m thankful 4 Friends like…” He goes on to list 14 people (including me!) and then says he doesn’t have enough room to list them all (on Twitter).

  • “Aside from the usuals like family & health, I’m thankful for video games & the world they let me escape into on bad days.” I don’t do video games, but I know a lot of people who have found solace in them

  • “My family, people who love me, knowing who I am and the ability to be that person, the privilege of education, and Batman.” A LOT of these were also on my list! I forgot Batman though…

  • “I’m thankful for my family and that I have a job.” There’s family again. Also, in this economic situation, I think the people with steady jobs are realizing their good fortune.

  • “Thankful for 2 healthy children… I’ve seen one too many sick kids this year, and I’m just happy & thankful that mine aren’t in the hospital battling an illness. (Sorry, kind of a downer, but it’s true… People take their health for granted.)” It’s not a downer, and I agree: people do take their health for granted.

  • “My amazing roomies who can always cheer me up, and make me feel loved, no matter what.” (Hey Chels! Love you, too)

  • “Breath” She’s a poet, can’t you tell? Perfect answer.

  • “Heidi (her dog), a stable career and good books!” See writers, someone’s even thankful for us! ;-)

  • “I feel extremely lucky and thankful for a very caring husband, dear friends and family (all healthy thankfully). I’m also thankful for being able to enjoy life and experience so much.” Yeah, I’m ditto on that last part.

  • “I am thankful for every lungful of air I take in… honestly… because without it I couldn’t be thankful for anything else thereafter!” She’s got a point.

  • “I’m thankful for having great loving friends and family all around me.” So simple, but something that so many people take for granted.

  • “I’m thankful for a wife that keeps me happy and sane, and I’m thankful that I’ve got a pretty good life altogether. I’m also thankful for science, cause science is awesome.” Oh SCIENCE! I’m so sorry, didn’t mean to exclude you. I <3 science. Especially the kind that let me do this entire ‘experiment’ via my mobile phone.

  • “I’m thankful for the vlog brothers. I think it’s time for some positive pranks!!”  DFTBA (links are mine)

“And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks.”  ~John Taylor

So this is what’s put me in such a great mood this week, despite receiving four (!) query rejections. I know it sounds cheesy and sappy, but next time you’re feeling down – maybe write down some of the things you’re thankful for. (I know I wouldn’t have done it if it had been suggested in this way, but the world managed to trick me into it.) We all do this at Thanksgiving in some way, but one day a year isn’t enough.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~Edward Sandford Martin

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