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Blog Posts

lessons from the holiday feast

Christian Clarke

 photograph by brigitte tohm

photograph by brigitte tohm

the fall holiday season is usually pretty exciting for all parties involved. no matter what you’re interested in there’s something to look forward to. thanksgiving is growing to be one of the more controversial holidays but it is still a time that calls for people to sit down together, look back and recognize what they’re truly thankful for.

for some, thankfulness comes from the physical: money, a new job, a new house, or fenty foundation. for others, they rejoice thinking about the moments they were able to have with friends and family. everyone is thankful for something completely different, so when i was invited over to a friend’s house one thanksgiving i was super nervous. at his home, before anyone can eat, everyone had to go around the table and say what they were thankful for (it doesn’t sound like much but it was a lot of pressure). what if i said something that sounded materialistic and they all judged me for thinking too much about the physical. what if i said something emotional and they laughed at me and called me a sap?! i was thinking about it for weeks and still couldn’t come up with anything.

i was holding a tray of mashed potatoes my mom made for me to bring, standing at the door to my friend’s house in pure dread. he let me in and we played video games for a while, so i was lost in the bliss of nba 2k until it was time to eat. as i sat at the table, i felt my heart drop straight into my stomach and sink lower with every passing person. it was finally down to his older sister then next, me. everyone else had gotten applause and i was certain that his sister would; after all, she seemed so happy. she went to open her mouth but just as quickly closed it and tears streamed down her face into her food. she said she couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for, she felt her life was falling apart. she quietly left the room. the silence of the room was heavy as everyone looked around at one another not sure what to do. it took me a minute but then it hit me. i excused myself from the table and went to go find his sister and bring her back to the table. i told her that i had worked tirelessly on the mashed potatoes and that i wished she could try some (thanks mom).

when we returned, everyone was silent. as i went to sit down i told them about how fearful i was that i would be judged based on what i was thankful for. everyone but my friend's sister laughed a little. when the laughter died down i followed up by saying how silly that was of me. that no matter how silly, small, big, materialistic, or sappy the thing i was thankful for was, i was still thankful for it and it still made me smile. more times than not we forget to be thankful during the bad times as well. when things go south we lose sight of all those things that made us smile in the first place as if they never existed. the warm embrace of a loved one slips our mind, that stranger telling us we looked nice today is forgotten, all the little things that warm our hearts go cold. we also forget to be thankful for the bad times itself. in those dark times we learn a lot about ourselves, more than we ever would have if times were always positive. there is no redemption song without failure, for an arrow to go forward it must first go back (i listed as many analogies as my brain could think of to get my point across). i ended by saying i’m thankful for the dread of being judged because without it i wouldn’t have learned to be thankful for any and everything i want without remorse. that made her smile and she continued my thought by saying she was thankful she lost everything so she could start over.

that thanksgiving i learned three things: 1) spicy food goes right through me, 2) never be ashamed of what you're thankful for, 3) appreciate the bad times, for without it there would be no good.