November 22, 2012
So many reasons to give thanks
On this Thanksgiving Day in 2012, I feel not only very pregnant with an active and (from all indications) healthy fetus, but I am pregnant with much good fortune. Although my life is far from perfect, I know that it suits me and my so-called problems are manageable, particularly when I think about them in juxtaposition with the legitimate hardship and challenges facing so many others in America and around the world. The opportunity to give thanks should not only be about counting one's blessings but also about thinking creatively and with generosity through the myriad of ways to pay forward one's good fortune. Whether it be through volunteering, through monetary or material donation, through kindness, or through key moments of empathetic exchange with others, there are very many avenues through which to do just that.
I love this holiday for a bunch of reasons that I've counted in previous posts. But to reiterate, I love that Thanksgiving is a secular national holiday. If we discount Black Friday's growing encroachment, it's not at all about material acquisition (more on that tomorrow). Thanksgiving also involves an inordinate amount of food, side dishes, and desserts. But most of all, it encourages people to linger in the space of gratitude for longer than they would otherwise. And for a lot of us, that practice of giving thanks gets ritualized and shared around the table with loved ones. Since I was a child my family has been in the habit of going around the room and talking about the aspects of life for which we're grateful.
This year I am so thankful for my loved ones who have been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of this new family-friendly venture that my partner and I have decided to pursue. I am thankful to be adequately insured and have access to capable medical care. I am thankful for my job and for understanding coworkers (who treat me and my impending maternity leave as something to celebrate rather than be burdened from). I am thankful for my students who not only motivate me to want to learn more, try harder, be better, etc., but who have been very sweet and caring in response to my "delicate' condition. I am thankful for my partner who is as kind, generous, supportive, and loving as he is hilarious, whip-smart, and hardworking. I am thankful for our parents who will give our child a grandparenting experience 6-persons strong! As someone who grew up knowing only one of her grandparents, it is not lost on my how unique and lucky she'll be. I am thankful for so much more than I can articulate in such a confined writerly space.
Most of the time I believe that the world could use more gratitude and more hefty helpings of empathy. But on this particular holiday it feels as if we collectively come a bit closer to reaching our "thankful" and reflective potential. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!
Here are some organizations that do a lot of good locally:
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
Women and Girls Foundation
Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
The Pittsburgh Foundation