I don’t have anything against the concept of gratitude. But gratitude proclamations around the Thanksgiving table tend to be expected like “I’m grateful for friends and family.” On the one hand, this is fine. I’m not going to get all upset because someone forced me to spend 28 seconds of my life less than deeply entertained.This person is a hero next to the “I’m grateful my wife and I were able to take time off from yelling at kids who write code so we could admire each other’s abs in three different countries that will soon be under water thanks (but not officially thanks!) in part to the airplane flights it took us to get there.”
What if we thought about gratitude differently? What if the person calling for everyone at the Thanksgiving table to say what they are grateful for asked them to describe something that truly makes them tick? A joke or interaction or just state of being that made them say to themselves “yeah this is kind of who I am” even if that thing they are is a bit of a jerk sometimes.
What if instead of saying things about how we nurtured appropriate social bonds or appreciated being privileged enough to do fun stuff, we talked about the specific things that got us through the day?
Some might call this gratitude list cynical, but my mind works in weird underhanded ways and maybe yours does too.
Off we go.
* I’m grateful I live in Northern California, a place I feel so culturally alienated from that I never run out of things to complain about.
* I am grateful that the other day when I said, “Yeah, Northern California has such a weird culture” to my friend D., a sober addict working recovery in AA one day at a time, that D. held up a hand and said not what I thought he was going to say, which was “please don’t be so negative” but said instead: “Please don’t use the word “culture” in reference to anything to do with this place ever again.” * I am grateful I left Massachusetts because every day that I do not live in that sodden freezing hellhole surrounded by people yelling “Kevin get your fucking ass in the car right now” is another day I get to complain about California.
* I am grateful I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis.
* I am also grateful I don’t have the pharmaceutical copywriting job which I was fired from where I learned about rheumatoid arthritis.
* I am grateful I don’t have kids. That said I was petting my dog the other day and I was like, this is great, you’re soft, your eyes are sweet and trusting, but this isn’t really going anywhere. Like, this is really it, the emotional end of the road for our relationship. I felt a little sad. I got the kid thing for a second, and thought about how I will never have one. I felt sadder.
* I guess I am grateful that I have feelings, even painful ones. * I am grateful that painful feeling lasted about five seconds and then I went back to bed thinking wow there is nothing like being in bed with a soft dog and her gossamer neck folds and I really just don’t like having any responsibility and everyone else has kids so I don’t have to.
* I’m grateful people think our dog’s name is “Roofie” rather than “Ruthie” because I get to say to them “Do you really think we’d name our dog Roofie?” and then they have to feel like the jerk while I get to be the person about whom people think “of course she’d never actually roofie anyone that’s her dog’s name.”
* I am grateful that my closest friend lets me make fun of her for being basic because it gives me so much pleasure. I am especially grateful because the other day I was like “this doesn’t bother you does it” and she said it actually did but that I could keep doing it.
* I’m grateful she did not add “Because I have so much more money than you do and I know even though you pretend you’re joking you’re actually resentful and jealous of me.”
* I’m grateful my boyfriend is younger than me, has more money than I do, and is better looking than I am because it means I’ve accomplished something even when I’m just sitting around.
* I am grateful that tonight, when a guest left our home, my boyfriend did not turn to me and say, “That was fun,” when my feelings were “ugh.” I am grateful we both said, “Ugh,” and that we both drew the word out for several seconds.
* I am truly grateful that I have learned to be polite to people who bore me. I am really serious about this. I hate having to just sit there and be bored and not create some sort of excuse to lash out so I can feel less bored and uncomfortable. But I do it anyway because later, when I get away from them, I don’t want any feelings of guilt that I was unkind get in the way of just being elated that I won’t see this person for a long time, or ever again.
* I am grateful for the people who let me say I am sorry when I snap at them. I really mean it, and thank you so much for moving on. I wouldn’t be saying sorry with such desperation; if I did I was not entirely in the wrong. Or at least mostly. Or “arguably.” * I am grateful for all the debates I don’t even understand.
* I’m grateful I have never dreamed of scaling a mountain that is more than 20 miles away from where I live.
* I am grateful that I wished I was Jewish my whole life and three years ago finding out my mom’s dad wasn’t her dad and was actually Jewish. I am grateful I am aware this information means nothing about me or my ‘identity’ but I can still be stoked about being Jewish.
* I am grateful that so many people like things I write and equally grateful that so many people don’t.
More by Sarah Miller: Even If Your Blood Is Clean(ish)
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