Ever since graduating, I have missed my high school’s annual Thanksgiving Assembly with a powerful gut-punch of nostalgia. We would gather in the C/A and, after a few words from the headmistress, start lining up on either side of the stage– students, teachers, administrators, coaches, all — to read our lists of thanks. You worked on your list of thanks. They were long. And even if the assembly went over, which it almost always did, everyone got to speak. I wouldn’t stake my dad’s apple pie on it, but I bet I have a couple old write-ups lying around. Somewhere. But that’s for another time, and since I don’t feel like whipping out the hankies (or eye-rolls) for my younger self, let’s stick to present-day.
I am thankful for my simply awesome parents and my perfect friends, even though I am still mad at all of them for either moving to Cambodia, London, France, and L.A., or for staying in New York or D.C. and laughing uproariously when I suggested they crawl into my suitcase and come to Iowa with me. Speaking of, I am thankful for having moved to Iowa over a year ago to live in a century-old house that may leak heat in winter but also happens to house Boyfriend, who turns on the portable bedroom heater hours before I go upstairs every night and finds my ever-lost slippers before I get up every morning.
I am thankful for letters, email, and Skype, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and the Sweet Valley Twins, because at least I read something better than the Clique books when I was in 6th grade. (I am also thankful for Casablanca and Shakespeare.) I am thankful for spending my teenage years at Greenway, where I met my best friends, learned to write five paragraph essays in 90 minutes flat, read Kafka and Morrison and Kerouac, got feminism, and where teachers inspired me, which increasingly feels like an anomaly in this day and age. I give thanks for for hair curlers and contacts, for my cats who think they are the world’s first breed of cat-dog-kangaroo, for boots made for snow, rain, and crisp fall days, respectively, and for Anthropologie, even when their creativity comes with too high a pricetag.
I am thankful for the four kinds of flour in my pantry that sometimes make me question my own sanity, my Cuisinart, cheese and good bread and red wine and Champagne. I am thankful for Grandma Smoot’s Sweet Potatoes, not my grandma but a fine woman who decided that sweet potatoes mashed with two eggs, a stick of butter, and a cup of sugar should be called a savory dish and served before dessert: I salute this spirit. I am endlessly thankful for being physically and financially able to travel and the fact that Boyfriend makes the best travel buddy, and so I am thankful for crepes-Nutella, falafel, and the Orsay in Paris, for sunny sunny Vienna and night trains and good walking shoes. I am thankful for a camera that is far better at taking pictures than I am. I am thankful for ART, and that I get to study it, and grad schools if you are listening in, I will be thankful for admission + scholarship too, thanks!
I am thankful for puff pastry, hot showers, kindness, apple picking, nights on the deck, and Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving Help Line at the New York Times. I am thankful for the audacity of hope, both sentiment and author. I am thankful for 23 years with my Kansas Grandma, who wore fierce leopard print shoes, fried eggs in bacon fat, let me spend hours pounding out bad poetry on her ancient typewriter in the basement, and never, ever forgot a birthday. I am thankful that, when she offered to “take me shopping” on a visit to DC at least ten years ago, and I said, “Great, to the pet shop we go!”, she humored me. And while we’re on the topic, I am ever thankful for my Memere in France, who makes the world’s best chocolate mousse, hand-knit me a sweater the color of the French flag with an Eiffel tower on it when I was little, and at age 91 is still eating raw oysters. I am so thankful for the families attached to each side of the Atlantic, and the ones I have made for myself.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope yours feels as good as mine tastes.