Thanks, Giving

In kindergarten, we were asked, the day before Thanksgiving, to outline our tiny palms on orange construction paper. I remember removing my hand and seeing what my teacher promised would be a turkey and what a turkey it was! We were instructed to color in the lines of our fingers to represent the turkey’s plumage and to give the turkey a face and legs. Carefully with a brown crayon, I drew a wing, a crooked smile, and spindly turkey legs. With a black crayon, I gave it beady-eyed sight. A rudimentary leering bird: a child’s take on a symbol of gratitude.

That was the easy part, not necessarily the art.

On the back there were printed words followed by blank lines: “I am thankful for….”

Gratitude as a concept was rather foreign to me. As a four year old with strong opinions and a sense of self (which would sadly, come and go), I thought I grasped how the world worked. My relationships were simple and so was my life. School, Chinese school, screaming and yelling with my cousins took up the bulk of my time, along with the occasional spanking which resulted in more screaming and yelling.

I doubt I propped my elbows up on my preschool desk and twirled my black crayon in a thoughtful way. I doubt I asked myself: “What am I thankful for? A very good question indeed.”

What happened, (despite my memory being notoriously poor, I am certain this is 99% accurate) is I simply looked around to what my classmates were so furiously scribbling and saw the words, “Mommy”, “Daddy,” “Brother,” “Dog” and other generic words that compose a child’s world being scrawled out in illegible child’s script.

So I followed suit. Not because I was a lemming, but because my classmates reminded me then that “Hey, these bozos have the right idea! I am kinda grateful for my dad, my mother (even though she uses the belt) and my brother, (who saves me from the belt). These people/things are to be grateful for.”

An early lesson in gratitude.

Normal Rockwell Freedom from Want 1943 The Normal Rockwell Museum

Now two decades later I don’t have to think about it anymore because they are always on my mind. Give me the blank lines again and I’ll give you a book.

I am thankful for……

Family.
Friends.
My job and the smiling faces (and kind-hearted reprimands) that come with it, and all the other jobs I’ve had, never for the paycheck (because for many years there was never a paycheck) but for the stories.
Life in general, for more stories.

 And most importantly, because this medium commands it, I am grateful for you literate and “very highbrow” people who make time in your busy days to read my blog. Because writing a blog no one reads is like dancing alone – which on certain days can be just the right amount of fun – but usually, it is better with company.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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