I’m not always thankful when I should be. In fact, I’m not thankful a lot. I’m worried, I’m doubtful, I’m negative. Thankful usually happens when something bad might happen but doesn’t, then I’m like woah, sooooo thankful. I mean, at the base of it all I’m a grateful person. I know I’ve gotten a good deal in this life. I appreciate the good deal. But grateful is more like a state of mind and thankful seems more active, more intentional, more humbled, more aware.
That’s why I love Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, or day. It’s when we bow our heads, even if it’s metaphorically and humbly say thank you for the simplest of things. Food, family, friends, community. It’s when we acknowledge at our most fundamental that those are the things that matter, the gathering of loved ones, sharing a meal, appreciating the ties that bind. It’s the cosmic gathering of spirits of past and present and future in one place filled with appreciation. I can feel my grandparents, my parents, my future grandchildren all around. And their connection is deep. It’s both nostalgic and hopeful.
It’s hard to imagine until you get to this point in life, just how important those days of youth are and how they will impact how you see the world. The powerful presence of generations are abundant in the traditions passed through the years. My grandmother, her mother, my mother they all come visiting on Thanksgiving day when I prepare the noodles in the exact same way they did. My kids love the way they taste, I love the way they make me feel. I love knowing that someone thought of me, someone who would never know me, came before me and took the time to create something to pass along. And I love knowing that someday when I’m not here my grandchild might be continuing the tradition in some way, even if it’s just seeing the recipe my grandmother sent to my mom when my mom and dad were stationed in Hawaii one Thanksgiving years ago.
There is tenderness and humility in thankfulness. Fragility even. Because at the heart of thankfulness is the acknowledgement of vulnerability, the need for others, the hope for health, the desire for love. Thankfulness places in the seat of honor the kindness of strangers, the blessings of nourishment, the preciousness of connection, the sweetness of memories.
With Thanksgiving a little more than a week away, I’m placing thankfulness at the top of my to do list, before turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, just right above the noodles.