In a few days, many people in the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday as rife with problems as it is with traditions. At the best of times, Thanksgiving is a special dinner with family and friends, but also a reminder of our whitewashed narratives of the violent colonialism that is the true story of American Thanksgiving. At the worst of times (which this year certainly qualifies for), the holiday also sparks family conflicts, activates old trauma narratives, and triggers relapses of addiction.
This year, when we’re asked to be distant from each other for everyone’s safety, those complications are even more complicated. Spending Thanksgiving alone seems antithetical to the whole idea of the holiday, which (again, at the best of times) is associated with togetherness, warmth, and enjoying the fruits of harvest. But for some people, having the year off from dealing with arguing with Racist Uncle Ralph may be as much of a literal lifesaver as avoiding the dangers of the pandemic is.
Whether you usually celebrate or not, whether you’re finding new ways to celebrate (virtually, with a small household group, or something else) or not, remember that it’s okay to need some extra support right now. This year has been exceptionally rough, and the four years before it weren’t exactly a picnic. It’s okay to be struggling. It’s okay to reach out.
During 2020, I’ve been helping run a small mutual aid group within my overlapping communities, and it’s been incredibly nourishing to have the reminder that people want to help, and giving help is one of the ways that humans get their happy chemicals. We’re here to be in community; we’re here to help each other. It’s how we’re made. Having to stay distant, not being able to touch others: it’s hurting us. And so we find new ways to touch.
And hopefully, at the same time, new ways to be thankful. It’s a good time to remember the power of gratitude practice. It’s a good time to search for things to be thankful for, and say them aloud. It’s a good time to eat some pumpkin pie, even by yourself.
And if you’re struggling, please: reach out. Call your mom; call a friend. Call me, if you need to. I guarantee you that someone out there is thankful that you exist.