This past Thursday people in the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving, that holiday where you stuff yourself silly while sitting with your family and friends, watch a football game while shouting at the TV, and pass out on the sofa at 4 in the afternoon in a turkey-induced coma.
At least, if you’re lucky, you get to do those things. If you’re privileged enough to have enough money to throw an expensive banquet, or have relatives who do have money. I’m lucky enough to have an overabundance of family wanting to throw Thanksgiving feasts. I usually go to three or four every year, between in-laws and divorced parents. This year, I barely managed lunch down the hall at my mom’s thanks to a particularly horrendous stomach bug. It was probably the first Thanksgiving where I lost five pounds instead of gaining it.
But lying in bed with stomach cramps gives you lots of time to think, partly about what I could have possibly eaten in the past ten years that could make me feel this bad. I also thought a lot about what I’m thankful for every day, and what I take for granted because of my skin color or my age or my physical ability.
I’m grateful to be able to afford my bills at the moment, something I’ve been struggling with pretty much since I turned 18. I’m grateful for the help of my friends and especially my family, who’ve managed to keep us from living on someone’s sofa through sheer force of will sometimes. I’m grateful for my healthy, intelligent, beautiful son, who amazes me every day just by existing. Then he wakes up and it’s even more awesome. I’m grateful for my own health, physical and mental, especially after the help I’ve received on the mental health front this year.
I’m grateful for the understanding of my family, but especially my husband, who has been through so much with me this year, including that mental health crisis and me finally coming out as a lesbian. He’s my best friend.
Some things I take for granted.
I take for granted being able to pass as straight, for one thing. It’s a hell of a lot easier for me, especially because I’m currently married to a man, to pass. I don’t even have to think about it, 95% of the time. I take for granted being seen as intelligent, because I’m white and dress well and had access to the best high school in my city because of where my mother could afford to live. I take for granted being seen as a responsible mother because I’m white and good looking.
I take for granted being able to get out of bed in the morning without assistance because I’m able-bodied. I take for granted being able to ask for and get assistance from my government in times of need because I’m white and a legal citizen and able to vote. I take for granted being able to vote. I take for granted being able to read because I had access to a free education. I take for granted having access to free books through my library system. I take for granted feeling safe walking down the street. I take for granted the ability to say how and who and when someone else has access to my body.
There are a million things a day that I don’t even think about, that other people have to strive and fight for every day. I can’t even begin to name them all. I can only try to even things out as best I can, by talking about those issues, by supporting others in my community, and by acknowledging my privilege.
I’m thankful for so much in my life, but probably not for enough of it. What have you learned to be grateful for? What have you taken for granted recently?