Thanksgiving this year was magical. My friends and I managed to piece together a feast comprised of close approximations to the recipes we know and love from home. Maybe it wasn’t mother’s stuffing or father’s turkey or auntie’s pie, but it was our best attempt at it, and that’s what counted. We each shared something we were grateful for over dinner. I felt inspired the next day to continue this gratitude practice. Why not keep it going? So here it is: eight days of written thanks, and an intention to create space for identifying gratitude and holding it close on all the days to follow.
Day One: I am grateful for lazy Friday nights drinking sage tea and becoming friends with the characters of a novel. Losing track of time and Norah Jones playing softly in the background. For the days my body tells me it is tired and needs a break, refusing any posture except horizontal and wrapped in every blanket I could find in the house.
Day Two: Today is cleaning day in my apartment. Though there are many things I would rather do than scrub a toilet, I am thankful nonetheless for a home to maintain. In the evening, my roommate and I cook together and lounge on the living room sofa while listening to Christmas music. I am thankful moreover for someone to share this space with.
Day Three: One of my co-workers brings his three-year old daughter into the office today. I introduce myself to her. A few minutes later, her father points to me and asks, “Zain, what’s her name?” She looks at me and says, “Khalto.” Auntie. I smile; close enough. She skips forward and offers me a peanut M&M. “Yellow,” she says, depositing it into my hand. I am thankful for this gift.
Day Four: Anticipation. I am thankful for this feeling that some may classify as anxiety about the future, a preoccupation with what is to come, rather than what currently is. What a blessing to have things for which I am so excited that I can hardly wait.
Day Five: Mindfulness. I am thankful for the work I am doing to get better at checking my thoughts about the future, moderating them and making sure they don’t overwhelm the present. I am not sure I will ever perfect this skill, but I forgive myself in advance for this shortcoming.
Day Six: The woman who is hired to clean our office a couple times per week teaches me an expression in Tamil. She is from India and she has been in Jordan for over a decade. Her Arabic is impeccable. My Tamil is nonexistent. But I am curious, and I ask her if she can teach me a few words. Now I can say ipresahum, which is, “how are you doing?” I am thankful for her generous patience as I stumble over the unfamiliar syllables.
Day Seven: When I am not at the 7iber office, I am working as a research assistant for a project with one of my instructors from grad school. She has me conducting interviews with refugees from Syria about their experiences of social connection. I am amazed by the networks of relationships people manage to patch together after so much destruction has worked to rip them apart. Gratitude is not the right word to describe what I feel about the privilege of hearing these brave stories, but maybe it’s close enough.
Day Eight: I am thankful for coffee made with care, and caring company to enjoy it with.