In years past, starting on the first day of November, my social media feed would be overflowing with thankfulness posts. Honestly, it got on my last natural nerve. Most of it seemed like so much “humble bragging” — an excuse to tell people just how wonderful your life is (or how wonderful you want it to appear to be) without saying “Hey y’all! Compared to me your life is sad and pitiful and so not on trend. Your children are dumb and a little ugly, your husband’s a shiftless loser, and I can’t believe you don’t have your Christmas tree up by the first week of November. Oh, and Santa loves us and probably not you because we’ve gone to feed the homeless in our Jimmy Choo pumps dear hubs got us right after he bought us a Mercedes to run carpool in. Excuse me while I go to Hot Yoga and live my best life in my exer-casual pants that show off the thigh gap I’ve busted my ass to get.”
The rest was so sappy I wanted to throw up. “Thank you Lord for sending me a daughter who is brave and strong and beautiful and a Mensa candidate and a marathon runner and a she-coon warrior-queen who can conquer her darkest fears and live her wildest dreams and save one-eyed puppies and kick the butts of everybody who even looks at her sideways and bake a mean biscuit all while working three jobs and going to night school and dancing like nobody’s watching.” [Insert appropriate string of love and strong arm and heart-eye emojis here punctuated with a unicorn and a rainbow.]
But this year? Not a one! Not one! Not even a vague-book “I’m so blessed for reasons I can’t say yet.” And honestly, much to my surprise (and disgust) I miss it!
I know it’s been a right shitty year on a number of levels. First there’s politics (whatever side you’re on) — news fatigue is real. Then there are the hurricanes, fires, and floods that have caused serious devastation and incredible loss of life and changed some of our favorite places irreparably. The shootings — so so many shootings — so many shootings that I can’t even keep track of them all which makes me sad on a whole other level. And speaking of sad, in addition to a dear friend, we’ve lost Aretha, Tony Joe White, and Roy Clark who are probably all pickin’ and grinnin’ in the Promised Land while Stan Lee soars through the heavens like the superheroes that soared from his imagination, God rest their souls collectively and individually. And all this on top of our individual daily defeats, disappointments, and discouragements.
I get it. I’ve had my own upsets this year. My own setbacks. My own heartbreaks. But Husband accuses me of being an eternal optimist, so I’ve compiled a list of things that I am thankful for, which is in no way intended to be braggadocious, and in every way intended to recognize that there’s always a silver lining to every cloud. Arggghhh, did I just write that sappy drivel? Vomit!
All sappiness aside and in no particular order, in the year of our Lord 2018 I am thankful for:
- Seeing my words between two covers and on the store shelves! Yes, I published a book! This little collection of essays represents the fulfillment of a dream I squelched for many years until finally I said, what the hell! And I went for it. Find out more about the book here. And the cherry on top of the publishing sundae was seeing my book on the shelf at the national BookExpo in New York, which you can read about here.
- Losing 30 pounds. Then I gained 10 back. But I still lost 20. And I learned better eating habits, I feel better overall, and my clothes fit better which means that I feel cuter which means that I’m in a better mood. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling until I felt better. And now that I’ve been eating better, all those old Southern standbys (I’m looking at you mac and cheese, fried foods, and tea so sweet your teeth hurt) that I used to pig out on, make me feel bad. So I’ve adapted and evolved. Yay me!
- Heated seats in my car. Proof that God loves women who wear dresses and wants us to be happy and comfortable.
- Seeing Sonny Boy thrive at college in a city that is rife with opportunity. He gets to experience art and culture and diversity and independence. He’ll have the chance to do things I never even dreamed of when I was 19. Now I’m not saying that every time he leaves, I don’t feel like someone has reached down my throat and pulled out my heart and stomped it into a flat, lifeless greasy spot in the middle of the road. But we do have FaceTime, and we talk and text just about every day. And I get to go to Chicago to visit, and I just flat love Chicago. So there’s that.
- Sitcoms that make me cry, which means that despite all the bad things we see and hear every day, my heart can still be touched and moved even if it is by a sappy moment on television and even if Husband laughs at me when I reach for a Kleenex. When I stop crying at sitcoms, then I’ll worry.
- The feminist men in my life starting with my Daddy, who taught me that I was just as smart and worthy and capable as any man. Then there’s Brother, Husband, and Sonny Boy — who along with Daddy, have always supported and encouraged me in more ways that I can count. And I would be completely remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out here to the feminist women who came before me — my great-grandmothers, grandmothers, great-aunts, and Mama, who put their shoulders to the grindstone and their minds to the books and worked twice as hard for half the pay, never complained, and raised families all at the same time.
- Ergonomic crochet hooks. As many of you know, I’m just a little obsessed with crocheting (read more about it here), especially Granny Squares. My daily meditation is going round and round and round and round making squares big and little. But my mind is busy y’all, busy. So to quiet it, I crochet a lot, a whole lot. And all this happy hooking makes my right hand and wrist hurt — that is until I discovered the ergonomic crochet hook! With a little rest and my new hooks, I’m back in business!
- The new doohickey on my iPhone that tells me how much time I waste on my iPhone. Lord, y’all … have I wasted some time. I just didn’t realize how much until the doohickey showed up. Now I know, and when I find myself running down a rabbit trail on Facebook or my new favorite game (the Wizard of Oz color matching thingie), I think of those reports and how much writing (duh!) or crocheting I could be doing instead of wasting my time scrolling through Twitter or celebrity photos. Then I put the phone down and get busy.
- Being included in scattering the ashes of a friend who recently passed. Now, when you go to a gathering to celebrate a life well-lived, eat a plate of barbecue and some of the best potato salad you’ve ever had, and then someone unexpectedly hands you a little baggie of ashes and you see the bone shards and flesh dust, it’s hard not to be taken a little aback. But then you feel honored — really deeply honored and humbled — to be entrusted with the mortal remains of someone’s loved one and life partner. Then you buck up and find what you think is the perfect spot in a beautiful garden, say a little prayer, and return them to the earth. Then you spend a few days wondering if you did it right. Then you realize that there is probably no wrong way, and go right back to feeling honored and humbled.
- A perfect fried egg. Mama used to make me fried eggs that were “blindfolded and lacy” which sounds a little dirty now that I write it all out. Anyway, the blindfolded part is accomplished by flicking hot bacon grease over the tops of the yolks to cook them without flipping the whole egg. The lacy is the crispy brown bits around the edges. Every egg she fried slipped from the cast iron “egg skillet” in perfect yellow, white, and crispy brown glory. In my whole adult life, I’ve never been able to fry a blankety-blank egg like my Mama. I’ve scraped stuck-on egg bits off I don’t know how many skillets and ruined breakfast (and sometimes dinner) more times than I can count. But now I’m getting close to egg perfection. I have a new, nonstick skillet that combined with hot coconut oil (remember that healthy eating thing from above?), turns out a nearly perfect, “lacy” egg. I know it’s a cheat. I know it’s not cast iron which docks me some Southerner points. But if it means getting that good egg lace, I’ll make the sacrifice.
And the last thing that I’m thankful for is:
- YOU! Yes YOU! You for reading all of these little posts I write. You for buying books and reading them. You for sharing your stories with me, along with your laughter and, sometimes, your tears. Thank you thank you thank you!
I hope you all have a safe, happy Thanksgiving filled with more gravy than not, more good sweet family than not, more naps than not, and more love than not!