Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I didn’t grow up in one of those families that took turns around the table sharing platitudes of gratitude. Yet I find the idea of such an exercise strangely appealing this year.
This Turkey Day, I will be joining my man friend’s family for a meal. Then we will venture out to the ‘burbs to see my sister and her husband’s family. My brother-in-law’s family has always been so gracious and welcoming to my brother and me. We’ve been included in their holiday celebrations for years. For an orphan, being adopted in this way is incredible… I can’t express the gratitude I have for their kindness.
My man friend’s family has also been inviting. He and his brothers have nicknames for their mom that incorporate the word “scary.” I admit it; I was scared the first time we met. I was worried she would think I was immature, frivolous, or simply not good enough for her son. This concern had nothing to do with my man friend or what I’d heard of his family– it was that old self-doubt narrative. We ended up having a lovely dinner and I have really, really enjoyed getting to know my man friend’s mom and entire family over the past eight months. I am grateful for their acceptance of me in his life but also for them as individuals. There’s so much real love in that family.
And my own family… bless them.
My sister is a wonder woman. She teaches full-time, raises two little ones, and maintains a sense of humor, balance, and grace in her relationship with her husband. Being around their family is so much fun and I am completely in love with my almost 4-year-old nephew and nearly 2-year-old niece. Just thinking about them elicits a chuckle and grin.
My brother is a super star. He’s got a rockin’, busy, and joy-filled life out on the East coast. We don’t see him very often (which sucks) but we are all close. I look forward to his phone calls, texts, emails, and of course his Christmas visits… it’s a blast. I shudder to think of life without my siblings. They are rocks. Bottomless, endless gratitude there.
My aunt and uncle also reside out East. While we did not know them very well as kids or even young adults, they now have a huge presence in our lives. My aunt always remembers occasions, birthdays, holidays, and commemorates them with delicious, typically edible gifts. Having trouble deciding on a present for that far-away relative? Order some buttercream frosted cookies from Cheryl’s. Holy shit, those some nummy treats.
I also give many thanks for my man friend and his lovely children. Not only do I get to be one prong of a healthy, adult, fun, sexy, and intellectually stimulating partnership, he and his kids have made space for me in their lives, their abode, and their hearts. For the first time in my adult life, I feel home. A part of something vibrant, chaotic, dynamic.
And my friends. I’m fortunate to have a number of friendships that have withstood the tests of time, geographic distance, life craziness, and my alcoholism. Every single one of my peeps, and you know who you are, has been supportive, accepting, and forgiving. For that I am tearfully appreciative. Literally.
My pets. Nora Lee, a Golden Retriever. I spoil her rotten and will for the rest of her life. She barks too much and has trouble getting around in her later years but she’s my baby. Raymond and Booty Rocket, my old black cats. They are currently asleep, head to head. I think they are holding paws. May they make the transition into their new home and kitty family (my man friend has two kitties too) without pissing on the furniture.
It’s important that you know this: gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness were not part of my thinking or vocabulary for most of my life. I could see no reason to be grateful. My life sucked. You know? My parents died. I didn’t want to drink but I didn’t want to stop either. I felt sad and alone every waking moment. I failed my friends and family. I lived in my head and took interest only in selfish shit. I wished for death.
How can I properly and appropriately express the gratitude I have for my existence today? In May 2009, the precious gifts of desperation and pain were bestowed upon me. A rapid downward spiral into my disease propelled me into detox and treatment, then sobriety, and I slowly found my way in recovery. But for this journey– every single misstep, stumble, and bump included– I wouldn’t be sharing with you today. I owe whatever higher power(s) is/are out there a giant shout out. Thank you Universe.
I am tempted to end this by encouraging you to find gratitude this Thanksgiving. Only that would be annoying and officious. Simply not how I try to roll. Had you told me to be grateful three years ago, I would have smiled politely but boiled internally with rage or gotten in your face and told you what to suck. Depended on my blood alcohol content I suppose. Regardless, I would have followed up that response by talking smack about you to anyone who could stand to listen to me. Yes, I was a regular ole holiday treat.
I recently got on Twitter. My only real tweeting contribution (other than to share links to my blog) has been this: I absolutely love that it’s not my place to judge others, my business to know what they think of me, or my job to control what they do.
So go forth and be merry or grouchy, thankful or pissy. You are where you are in your own story. It’s nothing to do with me. And for that, on this day before Thanksgiving, I am super grateful.