It's that time of year where we relax, sit back, and take stock on the year that is nearing an end. It's the time of year to be thankful, to be full of food and gratitude, to be appreciative of all that we have. Looking back on 2016 so far, it looks like we’ll all struggle between mouthfuls of turkey to find anything worth being thankful for besides the gluttonous feast we are lucky enough to be consuming.
Let's just make a quick tally of all the things we are definitely NOT thankful for:
Firstly: the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named (because this won't be another one of those articles) and in a similar vein, the entire Slytherin House of equally abhorrent cronies.
On a side note, let's be thankful for Harry Potter and the endless supply of available references that prove real life to be stranger than fantastical fiction.
Secondly: the alarming rate at which our stars are exiting this earth. This year has seen an unprecedented level of loss in the celebrity world. British treasures like Alan Rickman and David Bowie, American heroes such as Prince, Leonard Cohen and, most recently, the inimitable Sharon Jones. Is this global warming? Who else will go before Christmas? Lock up your elders.
Thirdly: the global loss of humans in all war torn parts of the world, and the continuation of humanity to deny climate change and burn our planet into oblivion. But this won't be one of those articles either.
The apocalypse may feel like it's just around the corner, but it's time to make merry and distract ourselves from the woes of our weary world!
So what are we thankful for? What can we possibly give thanks for in this most trying of times? The fact that David Attenborough still lives? Cher? Our own magical Irish president?
Let's give thanks for the people we like who are still alive. Go team.
We can be thankful for the resilience of art, music and creativity in the face of danger and political turmoil. For the ignorance of flora and fauna that continue to flourish so that we may walk in the woods, buy apology bouquets and pet dogs.
We can be thankful for our families, friends, shelter, food, and water because that's how desperate the contemporary measurement of happiness and human needs has now become.
I remember growing up, if we ever left a morsel of food untouched on our plates, our mothers would scold us, warning us to think of “the starving children in Africa” and to eat every bite of cabbage we were lucky enough to be given. Nowadays, we think of Syria. Be thankful you are not a refugee and quit complaining about having to spend time with your in laws. Bit grim? Let's rein it in.
On a personal level, I am most thankful for my friends. This year has delivered bad news to most of my closest pals, be they minor grievances, major heartbreak or monstrous loss.
My big hurdle this year was the middle-ground level of difficult things to overcome, heartbreak or breakup. Whichever way you want to phrase it, something was broken.
I am thankful for the hours that they, as a collective unit of support, spent talking with me on the phone, emailing me encouraging prose and poetic profanities, texting me words of wisdom and comedic quips to brighten my day.
I am thankful for the faith they had in my shattered strength, to rebuild myself, to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes -- a phrase that became my constantly reiterated mantra this year.
I am thankful for their perseverance when I faltered, for their reassurance when I felt weakened, for their endless supply of anecdotes to distract my anxious mind.
A friend I hadn't seen in a few months visited New York recently. Over drinks, we caught up on each other's lives -- she in London, me here -- and she said that she had heard from our mutual friends that I was “nailing it.”
I wasn't sure what she meant, but she clarified. Since the breakup, given how chaotic and public it had been, that the word on the grapevine is that I am “nailing” life. What a glorious nugget of positive gossip to meander its way back to me.
My friends aren't just being biased and blindly supportive in telling ME that, they're saying it to each other. Ergo, it must be true. I am so very thankful for that.
I am thankful that I am not thankful to a man -- a boyfriend, fiancé, whatever. How liberating it is to hold only yourself accountable for your own successes (and failures) and to say that yes, I have a support network of friends but also, I got myself here. I lean on no one, I am on my own but not alone.
In light of recent events that shall not be named, I think that is the one thing we can all be thankful for this year. We cannot avoid the fact that bad things will happen, disaster will strike, and it will feel like one person has the power to take away everything that matters, to undo all of the great work and solid foundations that have been painstakingly put in place. But we can always find support, we can always find cracks of light in the darkest places, we can always find a hand to hold.
So, when the inevitable un-nameable thing comes up over Thanksgiving dinner, let's not launch ourselves and our loved ones into a heated debate about sides and blame, but take a welcome segue into what the whole holiday is about. This is only my third rodeo, so I'm still getting the hang of it, but I'm pretty sure that's the general vibe.
And let's be thankful for support. Whether it's from the people sitting at that table with you, friends and family who are part of the continuous web of your life, or the international worldwide web of humans connecting online in solidarity.
This may be naive, so if the whole “at least we have each other” or “at least we have someone, somewhere” tactic fails, prepare for family members to start mapping out the Electoral College using yams and stuffing while attempting to injure each other with silverware. Happy Thanksgiving!