As both a history junkie and a skeptic, I’m not sure if I believe the tale of the Pilgrims actually landing on Plymouth Rock. (How does one land a ship next to a big rock that could smash your boat to smithereens, anyway?) We’re not even sure what foods they ate at the first Thanksgiving, because they probably didn’t have all the ingredients for pumpkin pie as we know it. But one thing that we know is true about the Pilgrims is that they had Thanksgiving. They may not have known what they were doing when it came to hunting (they nearly starved) but they knew what they were doing when it came to giving thanks. Thanksgiving was originally about much more than eating turkey and maybe watching football (ick!). Thanksgiving isn’t about trying to write as much as you can for NaNoWriMo because it’s one of the few weekdays that we (Americans, that is) have off from school or work. It’s about being really, truly thankful for what you have. Sometimes I make a big deal over little things that don’t really matter. I need to work on that, because I have a lot of things – mostly intangible things – that do matter. Whenever I feel frustrated about something inconsequential, thinking about what I’m grateful for really helps to put things in perspective.
I’m thankful for my family. I know that’s a cheesy thing to say, but it’s true. They’re smart, funny, and interesting. If I were a weird person in a family of normal people I wouldn’t be able to stand it, so I’m glad that I’m a weird person in a family of weird people. I’m a nerd with aspirations towards being a comedian/humor writer, so I’m very thankful that my mom, dad, and brother are geeks with a strange sense of humor. I’m thankful that my parents care enough to homeschool my brother and I. I’m thankful that for the most part, we get along quite well. We get to do a lot together and I love that. I’m thankful that my parents love books, read to me a lot when I was younger, and continue to encourage me to read, because reading was my first passion and I’m sure I’ll always have it. I’m thankful that they’re supportive of me.
I’m thankful for my friends. When I was a little kid I desperately wanted a sister and it took me until about the age of twelve to get over the fact that I wasn’t getting one. (And I’m thankful that I don’t, because I would have to share room and more importantly, there would be a huge age gap between us. I wanted a sister so that I could talk to someone my own gender and age, so a twelve-year gap would not be what I imagined.) My closest friends (in no particular order) are Lauren, McKenzie, Ainhoa, and Katelyn. I may not have sisters but I can have surrogate sisters and that’s what my closest friends are to me. Two of them I met entirely by chance and I’m sometimes amazed that we met all; we stay in touch with letters and emails. (I haven’t seen one since August 2010 and before Katelyn came to my sweet sixteenth this fall, I hadn’t seen here since June 2011.) My friends are far-flung with one in my town, one in a nearby county, one in my state but about a hundred miles away, and one in Spain. But distances don’t matter because we have lots in common. All four of them love reading, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games to varying extents. I know that three of them enjoy writing and I think that the fourth does but I’m not sure. We’re all nerds. It’s nice to have parents whom I can easily talk to, but it’s lovely to have friends that I can tell even more. Yes, parents know what they’re talking about and give good advice because they’ve experienced loads of things, but sometimes I feel more comfortable talking to my friends about things like my future because I know that they’re dealing with the same uncertainty that I am. I’m very thankful to have such awesome friends – these four as well as many others.
I’m thankful for my education; I’m thankful to be homeschooled. I don’t think that public school is evil but I do think people should receive their education in the manner that works best for them. Homeschooling is what works for me. I think I would be dreadfully bored were I in school, not just because of the subjects I already know but because of all the time-wasting (waiting in lines, lunch breaks, passing periods, and more) that goes on. Homeschooling provides me with much more time and is more flexible. I have a lot of good memories of things I couldn’t have done if I were in school, like going on vacation in May and October, and volunteering during the school day. (I volunteered at a local national park and got to explain stuff to the kids who used to be my classmates when they went there on a field trip!) I probably wouldn’t be able to take a college Spanish class as a sophomore if I were in school and I’d probably be too busy to even try NaNoWriMo, which would be unfortunate because I have gained so much through that program.
I’m thankful for my health. I’m extremely nearsighted but that’s easily corrected with glasses. I’m also much shorter than I would like to be, but other than that? I am glad to be healthy.
I’m thankful for my job. Yes, I complain about it a lot because it involves washing dishes at a local restaurant and scraping someone else’s half-eaten food off a plate is disgusting. Also, I come home smelling like a weird mix of foods. It’s rather boring. Still, I have a job and it will help me to pay for college. Besides that, another good thing is that it doesn’t require much thinking so I can space out. I often spend all day thinking about writing, either planning the next part of my NaNovel or maybe a post for here.
I’m thankful that my circumstances are what they are. If the facts I found online are correct, there was only a 10% chance that I would be born in a reasonably well-off country. (There was a 30% chance that I would be born into absolute poverty and a 40% chance that I would be only slightly better off.) Add this to the fact that my family is reasonably well-off as well and I feel incredibly lucky and thankful. I’ve never had to worry about where we’ll live if we’re kicked out for not paying the rent or where I’ll get my next meal. (I probably eat better than most kids too because my parents want to be healthy and my dad loves cooking so he makes really yummy foods of all different kinds – Indian, Jamaican, Greek, Thai, and more.) I’ve never had to trek miles just to get water that may not even be safe to drink.
Because I’m a girl, I probably won’t get paid as much as guys for doing the exact same job (and maybe even doing it better), but on the other hand, if I had been born a girl in another country I wouldn’t have even been able to think of a job. I might have been abandoned, not allowed to attend school or forced to drop out, or married in my early teens and already have a kid or two. I am very thankful that I was born into a prosperous situation because that has allowed me to get an education and focus on my passions like reading, writing, and humor. I mean, if I were born in Sub-Saharan Africa or another Third World region, I highly doubt that I would have the opportunity to use the computer to write this. I might not even know how to read and write. I’m still not happy about gender pay inequality, but on the other hand I’m glad that it’s one of only a few things I have to fight for. If I were born into poverty I would be so focused on how to escape it that I couldn’t think about the next thing.
I’m not just thankful that I wasn’t born in a certain place; I’m thankful that I was born in another certain place. I like my location – between a small town and a larger one that might even qualify as a city. (I’ll have to look that up.) I’m not too far away from a city (Chicago) so sometimes I’ve gone there for cool stuff. There’s some really great parks nearby that I love to visit. My area has awesome 4-H clubs (local and county-wide) and a program called Discoveries Unlimited that really helped me to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. It’s a nice place to grow up. It’s not overwhelming but it’s not boring either.
As you can see, I have many reasons to be thankful. I don’t want this to sounded conceited or anything, but it’s actually quite overwhelming how awesome my life is. I was born in a prosperous country that guarantees many freedoms, to a family that is supportive of me and that I get long with well. They’ve helped me so much and given me many opportunities. I’m thankful for my life.
P.S. And I’m thankful for my blog readers!