Friday, November 24, 2017

The shape of giving thanks

Thanksgiving is complicated.

At least, it feels like it is. On one hand, it's a holiday to celebrate gratitude -- you think on all of the things you're thankful for, and, if you're lucky, your family and friends will be among them because you're probably going to have to spend several hours eating dinner with them. On the other, it's based on a lie that attempts to gloss over the murder and exploitation of indigenous people. Even if I wasn't of Acadian M├ętis descent, it wouldn't feel right. I don't think it should.

Really, it's a potent allegory for my experience of Thanksgiving day. For my family, it was a day to get together, enjoy food, smile, laugh, and talk to each other the way families do, but it was Janus-faced. Sitting and feasting on green bean casserole and pumpkin pie meant, at least for one day, being forced to ignore the daily realities of an abusive environment. Even after I moved out, Thankgiving never looked the way it seemed to for other people.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition thus far has been going on a hike, every year it was possible. It started when I was in a bad relationship -- my ex-S.O. went off to get high with their friends, I had my arm in a sling from a work injury, and I was resolved to hang out with my dog and ignore the day entirely. At least, until another friend of mine asked if I'd like to go hiking. He had lost his parents and, with no family in the area, we went out to enjoy our own holiday on the wooded paths around the cow pastures outside Wilmington. We walked in the crisp air, fragrant with the smell of rain and dead leaves, until even my energetic cattle dog was ready to go home for a nap.
It was nice. It was what I needed.

Today, I have more to be grateful for than I have in awhile. My health is improving, I'm bursting with ideas, I have my cats, and my current S.O. continues to be as loving and supportive as ever. I am grateful for this every day, and I try to show it in the small ways I have available to me, but it would feel wrong to let a holiday for giving thanks pass by without acknowledgement.

So, on Jupiter's day, during Jupiter's hour, I sat and wrote all of the things life has given me to be thankful for. I am free and away from those who would seek to harm me for their own gain. I have my S.O. I have my cats. I have my creativity, and my improving health. I have achievements no one can take away, and a core of iron that will not break. All these things, and more, I wrote down. And I wrote my wishes for the future on a bay leaf, and let it burn.

I love the smell of bay leaf smoke, all rich and green and spicy. It smells like magick, albeit a simple kind. There's not much you have to do with them, really -- write your desires on one, light it, and sit quietly for a moment in the certain knowledge that you are loved and the universe will deliver what you need. Maybe not immediately, maybe not in the form you think you require right now, but it will.

There's not much to do for Thanksgiving, really. There was only the two of us to feed, so we had a regular dinner and enjoyed each other's company. The weather was nice, but with the lazy air that makes it inviting to curl up in front of a movie with Kiko and Pyewacket. Today, we might go for that hike. Even if we don't, it is good enough.



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