On this American holiday, a day set aside for giving thanks, I’m aware of how difficult it is for so many in this broken country to find anything to be thankful for. We are grieving, lonely, afraid, hurting, angry.

Somehow Thanksgiving has become about family, making those who have no family, more grievous. Those whose family is far away, more lonely. Those whose family is estranged, more hurt. Those whose chosen family is busy with given family, envious. Those whose given family is spending it with chosen family, left out.

Somehow Thanksgiving has become about food, making those who can barely put bread on the table feel less than. Those who have no one around the table, empty. Those whose plans to travel to someone else’s table have been cancelled, disappointed.

But what if this day set aside for gratitude, isn’t about family—given or chosen? What if it isn’t about turkey? What if it isn’t about traveling in inclement weather? What if it doesn’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting? What if it’s okay to feel the load of unrealized expectation or desire, and then to let it go?

Maybe because we are grieving, lonely, afraid, hurting, angry is why we need this one day. Instead of hating it because it looks all wrong, maybe we need to make it look all right. Maybe it’s just about gratitude. Maybe that is enough.

Today I am grateful for the sunrise.

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Today I am grateful for Mama Fir, even though her trunk divides my view.

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Today I am grateful for a friend I accidentally sent a text message to this morning that resulted in early morning connection.

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Today I am grateful a text conversation with another friend who is experiencing the familiar juxtaposition of grief and relief, and allows me to walk with her in the mire.

750991DE-5CE6-430F-8B92-B56AF722A890_AK260001_84bec572df6b6c1cd03ccbb0a0a10506_face_blowing_a_kiss.pngToday I am grateful for a body that can fold into asanas and for this sacred space.
And that I was able to go because a cold is only a cold and I am otherwise healthy.

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Today I am grateful for my sister who went to yoga with me and is always close by.

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Today I am grateful for courageous flowers.

Today I am grateful for 1500 letters from my forebears who let me into their lives
and the times in which they lived through their words.

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Today I am grateful for Airbnb guests, especially with such good taste in cars.
(Three of my last four guests have had orange vehicles.)

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Today I am grateful that I get to live in this beautiful corner of America.

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Today I am grateful for the cloud over Mt. St. Helens that makes her
ravaged beauty look whole again.

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What if it’s the clouds that make us whole?

Today I am grateful for the sunset.

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And though they are far away today, and I am not eating turkey around the table with them, I am always and forever grateful for my family and my many friends across this land.

11 thoughts on “A Thanks Giving Letter to Myself

  1. Yes, dear Gretchen… I am grateful for your eye to the beauty of the world around you. I am grateful for all you have taught me about creativity and writing and messaging the incremental growth necessary for meaning-making. I am grateful for stories of your resilience, your daughterhood/sisterhood/motherhood/womanhood. I am grateful for your incredible steadfast exploration of the meaning in generations. I am grateful to know you and be a writing companion. Thank you. love, Christina

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    1. Ah, Christina! Thank you for this. You already know you and SAS changed my life, but know too that I am grateful every single day. And grateful every single day that we are still walking this writing, observing, meaning-making life together. Thinking of you and the bees, always. 💜 Gretchen

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  2. I am finally sitting down for some moments to myself after days of grocery shopping, prepping, cleaning, cooking, silver polishing, linen ironing, airport pickup and delivery, and then, finally, putting the house back in order, little by little. Your post is a salve to my soul, reminding me that no matter how grateful I am for family, friends, and holiday gatherings, I still need these moments to myself to read, reflect, and just be. (Yoga on Thanksgiving Day sounds divine.) Thank you.

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    1. Okay, that made me not at all unhappy not to have had a houseful! Christmas is coming. I would so love to see you. I think of our Hedgebrook time with great joy. I’m thinking about applying for a residency in 2021. Long shot, but can’t get it if I don’t apply. 💜

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  3. I am grateful for the young people who shoveled 20″ of heavy snow off my sidewalks and very thankful they came over for Thanksgiving–2 to share cups of mulled apple cider, and 2 more who came hours late for dinner but who brightened our time together.

    20″ of snow is a lot for the Boulder Valley–the Arapaho used to winter here because of the relatively mild winters. Still can’t move my truck because of all the snow behind it–no place to move it that isn’t in other people’s ways. Dump trucks filled with snow go by, moving it to where? I am grateful for the snow. It has made me slow down.

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    1. Whoa! 20 inches?! WowZers! I do love the slow down part. I love being snowed in. (Wasn’t much fun when I had to keep my mother fed and warm, though! A power outage in winter with a nonagenarian is not a good time!)

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  4. I can almost hold ‘this is just the way it should be’ (or similar) because it’s not the way I thought it would be. I’m grateful for this small realization that may just grow into true holding.

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