I’ve come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday.
I’ve always loved autumn. I’m a sucker for the way the leaves change and fall down, and I don’t even mind having to rake them up—not since the day I offered to help my grandmother with hers. As I bent and toiled, I listened to the Forrest Gump soundtrack (I still maintain this is the best soundtrack ever, #nojoke). The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” came on, and as the opening line (“All the leaves are brown/And the sky is grey”) was sung I looked around to see that all the leaves were brown and the sky was grey. If I’d been a few years older I might’ve said, “That’s trippy, man,” but although I was still too young to know such an adjective, the synchronicity of the moment nevertheless imprinted itself onto my naive soul. Even all these autumns later, I still recall it as the summer winds its way out and the cool breeze starts to shake branches.
I love sweater weather. I love apple orchards. I don’t love pumpkin spice lattes, but I do love that others love them.
This year, though, what I love most about autumn is Thanksgiving.
I’m not from Fredericton. I’m from a tiny town in Ontario called Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s a nice town and it’s pretty in every season—but when I think about how it looks this time of year, I have to tip my cap: autumn is Niagara’s finest season. Soon, I’ll get to see Niagara in all its seasonal glory for myself, as my partner and I, fuelled by Red Bull and beef jerky, will make the long drive west across three provinces to my hometown.
It’s been a while since I’ve been back, and the thought of being home at this time of year fills me with nostalgia: the hay bales and corn husks my parents use to decorate the front porch, the way the house smells when the cooking food mixes with the crisp scent of dried leaves. Friends, family, food: one heckuva combination.
But as I’ve been eagerly counting down the days until I’m homeward bound, it’s dawned on me that not everyone has the same opportunity. My partner, for one, cannot be with her family out in Alberta—and though I hope mine serves as a suitable surrogate, there is, of course, no place like home. There are many people who, for many reasons, will not be able to spend this upcoming Thanksgiving where they want to, and I’ve been struck by this notion. I really am so, so fortunate.
And it’s gotten me thinking about all the many things I take for granted in my life. It’s not a proud habit, but I must admit: I often overlook all that I have and dwell on all that I don’t. Take my work life, for instance. I have several friends who have already gotten “Grown-Up Jobs”—careers with benefits, overtime, pension plans and whatnot—but I still have no idea what the heck I’m doing with my life. I compare myself to them and feel like a failure. But here’s the thing: I have this job with The Brunswickan and I love it! It’s a cool gig—one that allows me to go to cool things, talk to cool people and, best of all, write about them. It’s not something I could necessarily call a “career,” but, for now, it totally works. And it sure beats other jobs I’ve had in the past—especially the summers I spent as a dishwasher, where the dish-pit looked so much like the room from Saw I started every shift convinced I’d find a severed foot in the corner. Working for The Bruns is nothing like that. (No detached limbs … yet!) I love this job; I’m proud of what we do, and so I’m feeling very thankful for it.
And that’s what I’m trying to do more often: give thanks. It’s something I want to do all the time, but especially this month. Throughout October, I want to recognize all the things I have and I want to be grateful for them. Thanksgiving is a great excuse to do that; it’s a perfect opportunity to evaluate your life, and instead of dwelling on shortcomings, failures, wants or hopes, it lets you celebrate all that you do have. So that’s what I’m going to do and I’d encourage you to do the same. Whether you’re headed anywhere for Thanksgiving or not, find something in your life that you’re glad you have and take a moment to feel grateful for it.
With that in mind, I’d just like to say, to anyone who is reading this: thank you.