Archive for November, 2020|Monthly archive page

Thanksgiving in the Year When Nothing Good Happened

In PeaceAble on November 26, 2020 at 4:22 pm

(In response to a friend who asked on FB, “what are you thankful for in the year when nothing good happened?”)

Andrew was . . .


It was Thanksgiving and he had been reading all day about how he should be thankful.  All day.  On social media.

But this was the Year When Nothing Good Happened.  And Andrew didn’t feel thankful.

Be thankful, the internet was insisting.  We know that this is the Year When Nothing Good Happened, but you . . . Andrew . . . should find something to be thankful about.

Find something.

To be thankful about.

So, Andrew tried.  He really did.  He opened up a fresh page in his word processor.  He made himself a cup of coffee.  He would have made himself a glass of bourbon, but it was still morning and Andrew never drank in the morning.  That was a good thing, but Andrew considered it and thought that perhaps it was not enough to be actually thankful for on the occasion of Thanksgiving in the Year When Nothing Good Happened.

First, he tried all the usual things people say they are thankful for on Thanksgiving.  He had his health (though there was that suspicious cough earlier in the week, which might have been merely allergies, or the dryness of the seasonal air, but which could also have been the start of some dread disease or chronic condition – he’d have to pay attention to that).  He was financially secure (as long as they didn’t start screwing around with his pension or his social security).  He had the love of his family (at least he was pretty sure they still loved him – he hadn’t actually talked to any of them since August, and they all lived so far away these days, and with families one never really knows – people drift apart – he’d have to call them later, when he was finished being thankful).  He was going to contemplate the beauty of the world, but it was raining and a little chilly.

Then, grasping at straws, he thought, “This has been the Year When Nothing Good Happened, and I have survived it – I can be thankful for that!”  (But the year wasn’t quite over yet, so who knew what might still happen and whether he would survive that.)

That clearly wasn’t working.

Andrew realized that he needed something more.  It didn’t seem right to waste perfectly good Thanksgiving thankfulness on the ordinary day-to-day things for which one might be occasionally consciously thankful.  This was a holiday, after all.  A special occasion.  One should try to find something worthy of the moment for thankfulness.  One should find something for which he could be literally full of thanks, not just kind of lightly thank-y.

But what?

So, Andrew tried being thankful for big things.  But he couldn’t seem to think of any big things without sounding to himself like he was answering a question in a beauty pageant about how he wanted to bring about world peace.

It seemed that the more he tried to be thankful, the more he despaired that there might actually be nothing to be thankful for.  Especially in the Year When Nothing Good Happened.

He was getting desperate now.  Surely there was SOMETHING for him to be thankful for.  SOMETHING worthy of this solemn occasion must be able to fill him with appropriate gratitude!

So closed his word processor, shut off his computer and his phone, pulled his shades down and sat in silence and darkness in his most comfortable chair.

And, as he sat there, he found himself awash in all the bad things that had been happening in this Year When Nothing Good Happened.  And he began to cry.  At first, softly – just a bit of wetness around the rim of one eye.  Then, a tear escaped, a small gasp of breath came from deep within him, the gasp became a sob, more tears began to flow, his chest heaved, his nose ran, and he was full on crying.

And he realized that he wasn’t crying because this had been the Year When Nothing Good Happened, but because he could feel something shifting, not just within himself, but in the universe.  This, too, he thought, will pass.  And he felt a great release.  His tears were a reminder that he could choose to breathe again, to feel what he had been afraid to feel, to let the Year When Nothing Good Happened fade into the past.  And, he thought, this is how I know that my humanity is intact.  I have not, his mind raced on, simply survived, I am beginning to fight back.  The Year When Nothing Good Happened hasn’t defeated me.

Or us.  Because he could feel that he had a kinship with the rest of the human race who were also emerging from the recent troubles with new hope and new purpose.  There would be work to be done, the struggle wouldn’t simply go away, the wounds wouldn’t simply heal, but that’s what life is supposed to be about – doing the work.  There was hope, he saw; there was possibility.

His mind tried, then, to fall back on the gloomier thoughts, tried to tell him that this was all Pollyanna thinking, that he – and the rest of humanity – wasn’t up to the task.  But it was too late for that.  The thankfulness had taken hold.

Andrew had found that the human spirit, hope, empathy, purpose – love – when bundled together, even in the Year When Nothing Good Happened, were big enough to fill him to the brim with thankfulness.

And the Year When Nothing Good Happened was no longer.  The Year When Good Things Began Again had arrived.

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