Thank you for doing the dishes
But why are you feeling ambitious?
We just ate turkey
Which makes us less-perky
So sit back and relax with your Mrs.
Logging into Facebook this month has shown me that although our world seems to be heading for this so-called upcoming apocalypse, (economies failing, bombs exploding, households breaking apart), there are so many people out there who appreciate life’s blessings which come along just as the hardships do. In November, many Facebookers have chosen to post one thing they are thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. I’ve seen things like “a roof over my head and a warm bed” or “chocolate and wine”, anything big or small. Though this can get annoying (Yeah, I get it, you like the smell of a fresh baked pie, who cares?), it’s far more uplifting than reading folks’ complaints or meaninglessness: “At Walmart deciding which makeup brush to buy.” And it may have been an inspiration to consider what I was thankful for that day too.
In high school, my good friend Liz started a “happiness journal” in which she’d write down random things that made her feel happy. This is what I’ll always admire about our friendship. While most teens would be wanting more clothes, opportunities to drive the family car (or own one), money for beer, I mean, a movie…Liz would rather feel thankful for what she already had. She’s always been a very content individual and it has made our friendship fun. One day I decided to start a happiness journal of my own. “The smell of fabric softener, a giant plate of mexican food and a margarita after a long run, being with my family.” As I was packing up everything for our big move to Ireland, I opened that journal and noticed that I hadn’t written in it for over six years. Have I really been too busy to slow down and feel thankful for what brings me happiness? Or am I just not a happy person anymore?! Oh no! I immediately picked up a pen, and began frantically writing, “Bubble wrap. Weddings. Mojo’s tooth. Doing the Roger Rabbit with Denise. Fresh rain. Joe’s laugh. Chai lattes. Reggae music. Tent camping. Cherries.” Whew! I am still a happy person. That was close. Interestingly, none of the items on my list, nor many on Facebook, cost a lot of money or involved status/power; they were simple, pure, heart-felt delights. I also noticed that they usually involved the senses: the smells, sounds, sights we tend to skip over during a busy day. In a world that moves so fast and communicates a need to own a lot of stuff, work so hard you can’t maintain relationships, look good, and be on top- is it possible to stop and slow down to appreciate what brings real happiness? Ironically, Facebook people, you proved it is. Nice work.
This Thanksgiving in Limerick was intentionally low-key and peaceful. I did a few of the traditional American things, with an Irish twist. And I caught myself on several occasions feeling a deeper understanding of why gratitude is so helpful to living a happy life: it stops jealousy from taking over. Instead of watching the Macy’s day parade, I had a parade of my own by walking to the grocery store to buy turkey, potatoes, wine, etc, and lugging it all back. To combat my jealousy of the many people comfortably driving by me in their cars as I was sweatin’ up a storm, I thought “Thank you for these healthy legs that are getting me into really good shape walking so much, these glutes are workin’ it! And for my ipod loaded with James Brown tunes, ‘get on up, get on up’…”
Rather than watching an NFL game, I watched Joe play soccer for the University team. For a moment I felt spiteful of anyone watching a game who wasn’t getting drenched in the pouring rain/who had an umbrella, but then I decided to change my mind. “Thank you for my talented handsome husband who I get to spend my days and nights with and who loves me.” Instead of waiting in the Burien Starbucks drive-thru for my tall Chai, I found the UL Starbucks cafe, sat down and and slowly sipped my Chai (which wasn’t as good as in Seattle, sorry, I get one complaint right? Feeling grateful can get exhausting!). Usually, Mom and Dad or someone else in our family hosts a T-day celebration and does all the cooking, but this year Joe and I accomplished a delicious spread of turkey with cranberries, sweet potatoes, salad, asperagus wrapped with jamon-serrano, Irish soda bread, and rhubarb crisp for desert. Oh, and I made mulled (not ‘mold’ like everyone thought I was saying on Skype) wine. Something about warm, spiced wine…makes me laugh a lot. Instead of sitting around a table with our families, we were just us two, a new Supang family. Although we were half a world away, it felt like home. Suddenly any possible inklings of jealousy couldn’t be fathomed, everything was just as it should be and I was filled with complete gratitude without even having to try. Maybe that’s because I’d been working at it all day. Or because we got to Skype our families and listen to my mom recite her latest poem: “This Thanksgiving we are thankful for a lot; most of all, the legalization of pot…” And “Roses are red, violets are blue, it’s Thanksgiving, and we love you.” Love you too, Mom.
Tonight my happiness journal will receive a few additions: “Mulled wine. The smell of turkey baking. Joe peeling potatoes. Dancing. John Legend. New friends. Old friends. Fresh cut flowers. Slippers. Bandaids. Jim Carey. Skype. Warmth from a fire. A cozy bed…” Happy Thanksgiving to all of our family and friends, we love you and feel grateful to have your support and love always!
I wonder… if the first Europeans who “discovered” North America had been more grateful for what they already had, would they have still imposed their ideas and taken land from someone else so brutally? An interesting article about Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-w-zotigh/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving_b_2160786.html