My birthday is on November 22, which means it falls on Thanksgiving about every six or seven years, including this year. I had mixed feelings about this birthday–it’s been a rough few months for my physical and mental health so I wasn’t feeling particularly celebratory. But the funny thing about birthdays is that they come and go no matter how you feel about them and your life is politely waiting for you on the other side, like a dog that needs to be walked.
I hosted Thanksgiving and tried to be the hostess that I want to see in the world, so there was a lot of starchy food and cheese and alcohol and I didn’t make anyone say what they were thankful for this year. I am thankful for quite a few things though, even if I didn’t say it aloud.
I’m so grateful for stories and for the people who tell them. I’ve had difficulty accessing joy during the past few months and consuming stories has been one of the few consistent ways I can feel a sense of joy and hope. I finally got into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (I tried a few times before and made the mistake of starting at the beginning) and his books have been the perfect combination of escape and grounding. In addition to Sir Terry, I found a few television shows, podcasts, and other media that have been deeply comforting and meaningful.
I’m also grateful for people who tell stories with me. Telling stories is one of the ways I connect with others, whether it’s a formal writing workshop or a long rambling conversation with my husband about how we’d fix a movie we almost liked. Good collective storytelling is such a vulnerable act–if you are going to be really creative, you have to let people into your weird mind at least a little bit. My favorite part of this Thanksgiving was sitting around my living room with friends and riffing off a set of jokes until we had a full-blown ridiculous narrative that we created just for ourselves.
Things are been slowly improving (she says cautiously) but this experience reminds me why it is so important to tell your stories, whatever form that takes. Someone might really need them.