This is what I know for sure: there is always something to be grateful for. Even when the bigger picture looks gloomy, there is joy in the detail though it might take a microscope to spot it. Mercury might be in retrograde but the sun is shining and this too shall pass. (On December the 14th to be precise). This too shall pass. It is, as you know, my mantra. My prayer before I try to glue my eyes shut. The promise I am making to myself: though there are those who swear it will never pass, still I keep on believing. Willing it to be true. And so today, on this a day an entire country says thank you, I too am wrapping my bruised, disappointed heart in gratitude. I am saying thank you for the support that exists (To Mark and Kath, Diane and Clare, Debbie, Julie and Lisa, Gena and Mimi, new friends and old.) and thank you to those who love me too much to provide it. My heart goes out to all those who love before they judge, to those who care before they condemn and to every woman I know who has taken the time to wrap her arms around me and forced me to stop looking behind and instead gather the courage I need to fight for something I believe in. To look to tomorrow even when it feels as though the sacrifices required to survive it might just devour me.
But let's not dwell. Let's give thanks for cupboards full of food. For a drive to school that never fails to offer a little something to delight me: two magpies, a pheasant, the first frost of the season. For a vet who calls my poorly kitten "mate" and holds his little rasping chest close to his. For little boys who mutter I love you Mummy in their sleep and grown men with strength enough to out stare their worst selves in the mirror: to look beyond the black and seek answers. A grown man with his head tucked deep into his chest as he tunnels his way through a very personal kind of grief to prove that once again love can spell certainty, security and family. For this too shall pass. Despite the naysayers. Despite fear, and fright and rejection. Despite it all. My heart cannot spell it out any clearer: this too shall pass. Strength lies not in drama but in doing the work.
Let's give thanks for a school that demands more of my child. One willing to show him his best self and insist he steps up to the mark. To a teacher who listened when I explained that he will not sleep until I do, that this is why his eyes are red raw and then took the time to tell the entire class why sleep matters for little people. For a little boy who listened because he believes in her. For the semblance of normality at home convincing him all is well. For radiators that warm up blue toes and a classroom fragranced by aromatherapy oil ( a Brocante classroom!) and high expectations.
Let's give thanks for piles of Virago Modern classics, for a loft newly insulated and ginger biscuits coated in dark chocolate. For a kitten enthralled by the magic of glittery golden leaves falling to the floor. For an appetite liable to fill out my bottom all over again and dreams that pinch you awake, then take this new reality and color it red: Your Mum sitting on a bench far, far away, as you desperately scribble her likeness on to water color paper and tuck it into your pocket still wet. Your sister jogging through the park in a moss green ball gown. Your Dad gone. For (as always) candlelight, moonlight and the hoot of owls in the tangle of trees overhanging the lane, singing you to the kind of nonsensical fleeting sleep you have lately come to resent. For homemade cheese and onion pie, face cream that smells like white chocolate and the uni-brow that nature blessed both you and Frida Kahlo with. For a bowl full of apples and the constant mess that is your little book-worm's bedroom.
There is always something to be grateful for. Today of all days, may you begin to understand that you are ok. May the frightened child inside you finally find some peace. May your turkey be delicious and love be all we need. May you too find the strength to do the work and may your kitten stop sneezing and nearly knocking himself out trying to kitty blow his nose.
Happy Thanksgiving Me. Happy Thanksgiving You...