As if it should take a manufactured holiday specifically set aside for the giving of thanks, I was prepped and ready for Thursday, when the Harris family encircled a table crammed with piping hot food, joined hands and individually tried to concentrate on sharing one thing we’re grateful for while the smells of succulent turkey and fresh-baked cornbread wafted around us.
It’s not the most convenient point to be spilling out big, long soliloquies and it shouldn’t be the one and only time during the year that we stop to reflect on our thankfulness, so I keeps it brief. God knows my heart, but he also knows I’m hungry.
This much I’ve learned from life experience: the real gift of gratitude is not about having a whole list of flashy, amazing, Facebook-post worthy things to be proud of or excited about. It’s surely nice if you do—Lord knows I’m waiting—but there’s also something to be said for being appreciative of where you are right now and honestly, just the very fact that you’re here at all. I’m ambitious, and women like me tend to keep a laser-like focus on the unaccomplished goals that lie ahead while offering up a fleeting acknowledgment of thanks for who and where we are now.
I’ve been prone to thinking things like ‘Phew, I’ll be so grateful when I get there’ or ‘I’ll praise and shout when that day finally comes.’ But I’ve had to check myself and say: well what about now? Doesn’t this space deserve a nod of recognition? Without it, there is no next week or next month or next year. The future builds on this moment right here. I’m nowhere near being the woman I aspire to be—that fit, fabulous, walking, talking success story—but I’m also trying not to rush the journey to get there.
So I’m thankful for thighs that spread to the size of chemically engineered watermelons when I sit down because it means I’m eating well. And often.
I’m thankful for a child who is bright, healthy and spirited. My mother is thankful because she gets to watch her Miss Celie law of retribution unfold: everything I did to her when I was 14, she has watched me get back with interest.
I’m thankful for being an ex-girlfriend because I’ve had the opportunity to experience the magic of love, but I’ve also bagged and tagged that dead weight and made room for something better.
I’m thankful for a family that balances my own personal craziness and loves me authentically for it. And for friends who feel like family and are just as gloriously weird and complex as I am.
I’m thankful for all the overdrafts, all the collections accounts, all the eviction notices in the past because now, when I open the door to a full refrigerator or pay a bill on time, I know better than to ever take those blessings for granted.
I’m thankful for the brothers in front of the liquor store and the block boys who hang outside my building for giving me some affirmation along the way and letting me know, if times ever get real rough, I don’t have to be single if I don’t want to be.
I’m thankful for being Janelle Harris, from my random thoughts and bubbly disposition to my maddening bad habits and tendency to overanalyze. I am who I am, and it’s all good.
And I’m thankful for y’all taking the time to read my thoughts, weigh in on my blog posts, challenge my perspectives and be an extended sisterhood. Whether you deep fry a big bird or opt for turkey-tasting tofu this year, I hope you take the time to celebrate yourself. We’re always looking for a miracle, but you see one every time you look in the mirror. That’s not a flowery writer cliché—it’s real talk. You’re worth celebrating as much as the holiday itself. Be thankful for all the elements, aspects and experiences that make you you. I will, too. I’ll just be doing it in the comfort of stretchy-waisted pants.