This year Thanksgiving was rather mundane and other than thoughts about the morality of secretly feeding my dog beneath the table, I mostly just sat there blankly and ate, occasionally zoning back in to make a comment or two. The year prior, however, I was eating with a family that was not my own.
It came that time of the evening when we were sitting down for the meal that had been tempting us with the scent of its preparation for hours. Before beginning to satiate our appetites, it was decided that first in spirit of the holiday, everybody would go around the table saying what it is they are thankful for. People seemed so damn confident and comfortable with the question. That they were healthy. That their family was healthy. That they had good education. That they had good jobs. That they were happy.
They all went around the table with smiles on their faces and from where I was sitting, I was going to be the last one. Something about that order seemed eerily fitting. I could hardly think of a thing. I had plenty that one should be thankful for, but I was certainly not thankful for anything at that time. I had plenty of food to eat and plenty of places I could stay. My family was fine but they felt so distant that it did not seem to matter whether they existed or not. I was doing fine in university but it felt like there was no where I wanted to go from there.
I did not want to be there. I did not want to be where I was. I did not want to be anywhere else either. I wanted to not be.
I listened to the others as they spoke, hardly able to distinguish one’s account from another ones. I made my own list, copying bits from each blessing I heard. I practiced it in my head as they went around the table. By the time that only two people sat before me and my time to speak, I had it perfected. But then the time came. I froze in shock even though I had known it was coming for so long. The others looked at me, with smiles on their faces and I had forgotten everything that was said before me, everything that had happened, where I was. Finally the one at the head of the table asked me “Well? What are you thankful for.”
“I am thankful for that being is temporary and that some day we will die.”
Some chuckles and laughter ensued and then the Thanksgiving feast began.