A Lesson in Thankfulness

It’s been an usual month, friends.

I feel like I blinked on Halloween and abruptly arrived at Thanksgiving.

Although Halloween was a family favorite of ours growing up, I haven’t celebrated it as an adult in a long time. I’ll throw on cat ears and grab a drink but the last time I really put effort towards a costume, I found myself at a warehouse in Brooklyn at what I later realized was a rave, so maybe I haven’t considered it wise to do so again since.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is cherished by everyone in my home.

It’s R’s favorite holiday and as an adult, I welcome the mid-week interruption. Thanksgiving is a loving grandmother; it simply asks we eat, love family we haven’t seen in a year as politely as possible, and snooze in front of the tv without judgement. I think it’s becoming my favorite holiday, too.

Earlier in the week, R and I went to one of our favorite bars in our neighborhood and took some family photos with our husky, Riyah.

I arrived to meet him and a friend with Riy-girl in hand, both excited and exhausted. My day was not extraordinary. I picked up groceries, got the car washed, thought through a last minute dish I could make to bring to dinner while wandering the holiday aisle at Target, considered regretfully bringing a frozen dessert pie instead but resisted.

Beyond that, I began thinking of friends I’ll see over the holidays and racking my brain over who to gift what, and whether I had an outfit suitable enough to sit in my parents’ living room while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade. All of the day’s to-dos and the remaining list of things I didn’t get to prompted a surge of anxiety I couldn’t shake and you can see it in my face in the photos we took. I appear as stiff and distracted as I feel.

It’s strange — with the advent of Black Friday sales advertised before any turkey is ever even carved, I felt this sense of urgency to shop that I found strange and disproportionate to the commercial values R and I stick to throughout the year. After all, we have enough stuff and as I consider my loved ones, they too are without need.

Yet I still found myself endlessly scrolling to find just the perfect thing for them or just the perfect thing I swear I need for me (a new wallet without any obnoxious logos and a key ring attached to it, dang it). I lost moment by moment staring at 2-dimensional promises for satisfaction.

Before Thanksgiving, I indulged in the obsession over Christmas shopping to dull the anxiety that was actually set into motion by the same pressure.

Yesterday, I found a break from it as R and I shared a beautiful evening with my family. My brothers were around the dinner table, MZ (my youngest sibling) brought his girlfriend and at 8pm, all of my parents’ grown-up babies took off to other invitations, to new responsibilities reminding us of how far the days of lazing around idly together are from us as we get older and older.

Today, we didn’t visit any retail stores but instead shared a belated Thanksgiving meal with R’s parents, both of whom live in Belgium. His mom takes off tomorrow and won’t return to Florida until the spring. My mom had made a speech around the table the evening before listing off a host of reasons to be thankful for this year and she started crying as she listed them. Today, R’s mom was similarly moved by the generous gift of being together in one place.

And that’s the gift, right? Being together, overlooking the differences and injuries that are inevitably made by family in order to have the privilege of loving for no reason other than we belong to each other.

I remember now.

R and his mom, 2019
Author photo

Author: RJ Bohyn

My name is RJ, I'm a writer and consultant based in the South. If you're reading this, you've arrived at the corner of the internet I've cultivated to share life, reflections on faith, style, and just about everything in between with those generous enough to read.

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