WRITING NEVER COMES easy when it feels as though you’ve ingested enough food to fill three stomachs, if not more. But right now, there’s some urgency to write, to commit something to the page, if for no other reason than a tryptophanic torpor might disrupt the integrity of the memory tomorrow, that you might think the entire experience was all a dream.
To be clear, at the time of this writing, Thanksgiving proper is still a few days off, (owing to split families and a series of pre-holiday get-togethers between now and a week from today, we’ll have had at least four Thanksgiving celebrations—again, if not more). Tonight, though, I’d like to write a few words about Friendsgiving. More specifically, about the 30 minutes leading up to this evening’s Friendsgiving.
My wife and I had been tasked with baking two pies and picking up disposable plates, cups and utensils. After a frenzied, cross-town dash from our house, we’d pulled into our friends’ driveway off a busy stretch of Markham and took stock of the pies and … I’d left the paper plates and cups at the house.
What followed can only be described as an exponentially more frenzied dash home, the car rocketed homeward by increasingly vocal bellies and a lead foot. If I’m being honest, it was not an especially talkative car ride as we set the land-speed record for a 2015 Honda Civic. On the return trip, however, with the accessory-plump Target bag safely deposited at my feet, we drove a little slower.
“What are you grateful for?” my wife asked from the driver’s seat.
It’s worth mentioning that this wasn’t a completely out-of-the-blue question. Before each meal, we make a point of saying our gratitudes, the things that we’re grateful for that day: good weather, good friends, a good day at work, etcetera. But in light of the holiday—or the close approximation of the holiday—the question seemed especially appropriate.
For the next 10 minutes, unperturbed and unharried by the congestion or red lights, we ran through a list of gratitudes, hitting some of the regulars: An easy Sunday. Good coffee at Community Bakery. A productive time at the office. But then we got to talking about how grateful we were for our families, for friend-families, work-families, family-families. For the fact that we had so many events to attend. Eventually, as we pulled into our friends’ driveway for the second time, we agreed that the thing we were most grateful for was the unexpected doubling-back, for the opportunity to recognize how good we had it. On that day, and every day.
Now 99 percent of the time, these letters are meant to be primers for the issue that follows, to give a sense of what you’ll find. And in a sense, if you really squint hard enough, this one is no different. What’s different, however, is that I’m using this occasion to remind myself of something—something that I worry that I might forget in a few weeks, as the holiday season takes hold, and it becomes very easy to lose sight of what matters. Be grateful. You’re more fortunate than you know.