It will be Thanksgiving in one hour, Eastern time, and although I’m sitting here by myself, it would be hard to recall the last time I was this much at peace and feeling grateful. I make an attempt to remind myself regularly during the day of all the things I should be grateful for, but tomorrow’s the official day most people in America do it. Usually while gorging themselves on plenty of carbohydrates, starch, and butter and before too long whatever’s in the bar or the wine people brought over.
This is my 49th Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of them. Looking back at what I was doing over the years on Thanksgiving is a wild roller coaster ride involving people, places, ups and downs and usually a turkey. I’ve spent Thanksgiving in all sorts of places around SC, where I’m from, as well as Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, and probably a few locations I’m forgetting. I’ve spent it with Koreans who had no family in the US. I’ve spent it with a pair of lesbians and their adopted children who had no one else to spend it with. I’ve spent it doing charity work, and spent it with huge groups of people and, like I will this year, spent it alone. More often than not during my adult life, I’ve been the chef for Thanksgiving. It’s a job people happily give away, with lots of praise and high expectations to make each dish just like they like it. I’ve reached a point where I can manage a kitchen and cook things for everyone without problems; the trick is in the planning. You have to do a LOT of preparation, but it makes the day much less stressful if you’ve also been tasked with feeding a small army of picky eaters.
I miss my daughter terribly, and I still miss my old dog Annie, but other than that, this Thanksgiving is a perfect day to reflect and give humble thanks for all that has been bestowed upon me. This year is a stark contrast to last year’s Thanksgiving. And I suspect each year’s Thanksgiving will become incrementally greater from this point onward. I have optimism, and I’m grateful for that, and I give thanks for the reasons I can be optimistic.
The reasons I’m thankful are many. Mostly because I now know how dark someone’s life can become, and I’m thankful I have the health, both mental and physical, and wherewithal to take care of myself. Not everyone can do that, as we see each and every day. And I’m thankful not only that I can take care of myself, but that I can take care of my daughter in a way that she deserves. I’m thankful for all the decisions I’ve made over the years that have culminated in where I am now and where I’m headed. I’m thankful for a family that still supports my goals and dreams and cares about me, even though they themselves may not be as healthy and have their own struggles. I’m thankful for the people I work with because a lot of them are rare men and women who are kind, humble and genuine. And they enable me to work at a job I love that makes a difference and is rewarding. I have everything a man could ask for and more and don’t have any wants. Anything that matters, anyway. I have a beautiful, healthy, smart daughter. I thank God every second of the day for her because she’s so special to me. My adoration for her is unequaled by anything else and everything else combined. She’s just amazing to me, which I’m thankful for. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I have in life which have enabled me to work and take care of her.
I’m thankful that tomorrow is going to be better than today and today is pretty great.
Also published on Medium.