Today is Thanksgiving, probably one of the loveliest holidays there is. It has all the best elements of any celebration – food, family, friends, along with a big high five for all the good things that have come to pass. A day for genuine gratitude without the now-customary commercial highjacking, which is saying a lot for a place like the US where money talks. Loudly. That’s probably one of the main reasons it hasn’t really shipped well. Unlike Halloween, which is a merchandiser’s paradise, Thanksgiving doesn’t really bring in the big bucks. And so, apart from the mentions on Instagram and Facebook, and the odd meet-up in solidarity with exiled American friends, it’s largely a far-away event that most often passes me totally by.
I also have a general tendency towards uneasiness when it comes to giving thanks and being grateful. As someone living in the first world, educated, with my own health and a healthy family, living a nice life it can feel kind of self-satisfied and smug picking out a few things to be thankful for as, really, I’m probably genuinely among some of the luckiest people in the world. In general, the developed world’s proclamations of gratitude can be cringe-worthy and stomach-churning as they often only highlight we’re all a bunch of self-centred, spoiled brats.
A pretty day in November with my small girls. Thankful to be alive
I mean, take the whole ‘hashtag blessed’ thing as an example. A bit naff, at best, it’s been flogged to death by people whom, you can’t help but cynically suspect, are ever so subtly showing off. “Feeling ‘hashtag blessed’ as I casually lounge around in my beautifully curated sitting room, with matchy matchy cream furnishings that don’t appear to have jam and playdoh smeared all over them, while my perfect children amuse themselves on the beautiful rug playing with what appear to be ethically-sourced, timber shapes which were lovingly carved by eskimos and purchased on etsy.” That’s enough to put anyone off a turkey dinner. Oprah hasn’t helped the cause either, being the first known individual I know of to talk about the importance of having a ‘gratitude journal’ and being gratitude-obsessed in general. Which is all fantastic and fair play to her and all of that, but man if it doesn’t just make me grateful I can press the mute button.
Also, as an Irish person, we’re conditioned to feel anything but hashtag blessed because you’re always wary about what’s around the corner. You always feel you’re headed for a fall. We all know the story of Johnny going around feeling all hashtag blessed and what happened to him! (Just in case you didn’t know, it was nothing good). Advertising the fact that you might have done well for yourself or be living a good life is a no no. Overall you need to keep the fact that you might have anything to give thanks about to yourself, you big eejit, and keep motoring before you get your comeuppance. Hashtag watchout!
With all of the above churning around my brain, you’ll understand my feelings on Thanksgiving can be a little big mixed – smug and entitled with a smattering of it could all come crashing down around my ears, which would serve me right. But I can’t help myself from tentatively dipping my toe into the pool that is Thanksgiving, just to see how it goes. See what all the hype is about. You know, some conscious thankful thoughts without the large-dinner-cooking part.
This November was a really good one. Overall, there was lots and lots of quiet time at home with the smallies. There was my niece’s beautiful christening at the start of the month and a spectacular and memorable family wedding at the end of the month. And throughout there were some lovely meet ups with friends, old and new. Taking this into account, and acknowledging I am an extremely privileged person living a very privileged life, I am thankful for (in no particular order):
- Peace & quiet
- A warm house to call our own with a door to lock out the rest of the world
- Cake – particularly red velvet cake, especially fruit cake
- Family – their health, happiness and all their quirks
- Baby Ellie and all What’s App photos of Baby Ellie
- Old friends who know me, accept me and make sure we will all make the effort to get together and go out for dinner over Christmas, even though we’ll all probably be totally manic
- New friends, who call in or invite me to their homes. To those with untidy houses who make no excuses, I salute you! To those that supply gin, I owe you
- Nature, always wowing me
- Saying NO to extra-curricular activities for the kids
- The Kardashians
- Winter light
- Any time spent stretching my body or walking
- Finishing a piece of writing
- Doing any writing at all
- Sharing genuine laughs and fun with my children
- The Kygo remix of Whitney Houston’s Higher Love
I’ll tell you one thing – being grateful feels good. Little seeds of positivity. On reflection, Oprah could well be on to something… she’ll go places.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone X