Our youngest daughter calls Thanksgiving “Christmas Tailgate,” which makes me a little nuts. On the Saturday after Christmas, she drags out the ornaments, lobbies for a tree, and generally whoops and hoots until we get the decoration thing going. A lot of my friends have their houses all decked out before Thanksgiving, and I guess this is becoming the new trend. Heck, Target put out its Christmas schlock right after Halloween.
This bothers me a bit, first because I’m still in curmudgeon mode and just acknowledging that does not make it go away, and second, because Thanksgiving is so wonderful in its own right; yes, even the feast. There is nothing immoral about feasting with people you love, so enjoy a guilt-free day.
One of the cooler Facebook games is the one where people post one thing they’re thankful for on every November day. It’s fun to to see what other people value. I prefer the silly and true as opposed to the predictable and grandiose, but that’s just the curmudgeon again. Anyway, it has got me to thinking about what I’m thankful for. Too often we answer with what we’re “supposed” to say, and not with the close-to-the-bone truth, and that happens because we make a mistake at the bottom of gratitude.
Loving something or someone is NOT the same thing as being thankful for it or him or her or them. Being thankful means acknowledging something/someone as a gift, given by a real giver, and the thankfulness is directed to the giver of the gift, not the warm fuzzy of the affection for the gift itself. So I started thinking, “What am I thankful for? What do I acknowledge as a gift, every single day?”
And one answer is—words.
Oddly enough, I struggle with words. Not in writing them, because if you do something pretty much your whole life, you get a kind of facility with it. I have been writing stuff since my sister, our friend Linda, and I put on plays where we were kids. They weren’t . . . good. A horse was a requirement, as was dressing in Mom’s nightgowns. It made some kind of sense then; I digress.
The point about struggling with words is that, when I have to explain how I feel about something, or what is really bothering me, I have a hard time finding the words. I’ve learned to dial back to the simple, root thing that is causing all the trouble and name that. Last night, for instance, the root cause of a small meltdown was missing my sister, whom I want to be with today more than I want turkey or any of that stuff. (It didn’t work out this year. It will be okay.)
I am thankful for words—strong, gentle, silly, true, lies, tales, excuses, stories, whines, poems—words spill out of us and take bits of us with them. Language is a miracle. Words are little miracles. I am thankful to the Giver of words, without whom, and without which none of the rest of this is even possible.
Keep ’em real. Use ’em wisely.