I Refuse to be Thankful, and Here is Why.
It is that time of year again—you know the one: 27 days of Facebook posts on why we are thankful, lights beginning to twinkle in shop windows, and endless cookies and candies gifted with love. Granted, there is an air about the season, but what happens when it all stops, when the holidays end? Are we still thankful? Do we keep an organized list in our mind of what makes us the most happy? Most importantly, is happiness itself synonymous with thanks? The unfortunate truth is that many of us will spend our thankful hours strung in a line with others in search of corporate satisfaction. We willingly surrender full bellies, football, and the presence of our precious loved ones. The holidays may pass us by with an utterance of thanks, but two arms full of yearning. This season I am ditching the phony smiles, the lukewarm hugs, and the stale well-wishes; and I suggest you follow my lead.
You see, I recently moved to the furthest US coast, as far from my friends and family as I could get without treading actual water. I left in search of a dream, one my generation chooses to pursue rather than vacuously discuss: in my case it was sunshine, success and…smog. I greeted the flowered streets of Los Angeles with ten dollars on my debit card and a cat carrier slung over my shoulder. I did it, and man was it hard—and continues to be. If I thought college was a blistering desert, this was the Mojave. Interview after interview, I buttoned my starched shirt and pulled on my ever-tightening pencil skirt. Each left me with hope, and days later, with empty disappointment when my phone failed to jingle with congratulatory remarks. The looming debt of my student loans, though not as heavy as some, beckoned to me with its empty promises and impeding due date. Most days I just wanted to curl into a ball, but instead, I sent out hundreds more applications, and eventually, the day came when I was offered a job. Not just a job, but a career in my field, with an opportunity greater than my simple mind could have fabricated.
Now, this is the part where I am supposed to close with instrumental words of wisdom and change, a description of how much easier life is since I took the plunge of chance. However, I want to state that I never was one for cliché, so I probably should not start midway through my twenties. We are creatures of habit, after all. If the events of this year have taught me anything, it is that we often do not know what is best for even our own lives. We hang a portrait in our minds, but upon inspection, we see that the paint is beginning to crack and peel because, in our fervor, we forgot to preserve its material. This holiday season, I refuse to be thankful for the victories, small or large. I refuse to be a Hallmark for a holiday that we have begun to make meaningless. Instead, I promise to hold eagerly to the struggles, the heartbreaks, and the poorly executed decisions of my life. I will clutch the ones I treasure, because nothing makes those treasures clearer than distance. I will not make resolutions with the New Year, for with each year comes change that we cannot expect, nor predict. I will be thankful for the unexpected, the unanticipated, the unplanned, because outside of myself lies greater devices than I myself can make. I will cherish my family, both blood and built. Tomorrow comes a new day with a swell of challenges, and I will welcome them and be thankful.