giving thanks

For a person who tries to make thankfulness an everyday habit, I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t write a proper blog post about giving thanks on Thanksgiving. As a child my grandmother taught me the skillful art of a well-written thank you letter. By the fourth or fifth grade I was so well trained that upon opening any gift I would immediately retreat to my bedroom to compose a thank you note.

Today you might say I’m even a bit overzealous with feelings of gratitude. For example, I’m thankful for nice weather during my morning runs. I am thankful that I can eat my favorite fruits even when they are no longer in season. I even regularly thank my boyfriend Siddique for our phone conversations, even though we talk daily and often multiple times in one day. This may weird him out a bit.

The thing is I have so many things to be thankful for that writing this blog post seemed incredibly overwhelming. It still does. Especially after this past month.

To start, my grandmother, who is an incredible lady, turned 80 years old on Nov. 9. I am fortunate to have a grandmother who was extremely involved in my childhood, not only attending just about every pageant, play, concert, and award ceremony when I was in grade school, but she baked the most delicious angel food cakes for my birthday, which have since become cakes of legend among my childhood friends.

My grandmother also supported me when I made decisions that didn’t necessarily please my parents. Like when I attended an out-of-state college. Or when I moved 1,600 miles across the country to New Mexico. Or the time I quit my good-paying job to attend graduate school in the most expensive city in America in the middle of an economic recession. I am sure that I disappointed my grandma at times, but the thing about grandmas is they will never let on. They just shower you with unconditional love. Despite all my grandma has taught me about thank you notes, I don’t think there’s anything I could write that would fully express my gratitude for her love and kindness.

Second on the list are my teeth. I know. This sounds strange. Last Monday, I hugged my orthodontist Jenny Zhu when she informed me that my braces were scheduled to come off December 13. It was hard to hold back tears when she told me I was lucky to have so many people on my side. She was right. I am lucky. I have been shown the most remarkable support from my parents, friends, family and at least a half dozen dental professionals through the very long and expensive process of repairing my teeth following a bicycle accident in May 2008.

It hasn’t been easy being a 30-year-old with braces. Time after time I have been overwhelmed by the kindness people have shown me through this process. Friends, like Vicki and Lynne, who took me into their homes, made sure I was eating even if it was through a straw, who took me to doctors appointments, and who sometimes spoke for me when I wasn’t able to do so myself. I’m thankful for people like David Coss, the mayor of Santa Fe and one of the best and most understanding bosses I have ever known; for Carla and Sevastian, former co-workers who were always so much more including being unbelievably compassionate even when it meant that they had to double their own workload; and the support of so many good friends including my dearest and most beloved: Shannon, Becky, Priscilla and Katharine for whom my love is infinite.

The next step in my tooth saga is an implant, which is going to be performed by my dad’s cousin. Initially, I was a little suspicious of this as my dad is known for hatching some pretty far-fetched though well-intentioned schemes. I had visions of some guy working on my teeth from the back seat of a Cadillac with his tools powered by an adaptor plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter. But Dr. Cheslin is a great oral surgeon who kindly offered to do the procedure at cost, saving me about $6,000. After waiting for what seems like forever, I’m on track to have a new smile by May of 2011, just around the time I’ll have finished my master’s degree.

Next, I spent much of Thanksgiving Day reflecting on how many wonderful people continue to be in my life even when I haven’t made the best effort to keep in touch. These people include Jill, my cross-country teammate and an amazing and inspiring mother; Shira, my sweet and lovely college roommate (not to mention her awesome and loving parents Sonia and Marty, who have made me feel like an honorary seventh daughter); Leah, who has been a roommate, neighbor and friend in New Mexico and New York; Sam and Pari, two extraordinary friends who no matter how infrequent our visits may be always make it seem as though no time has passed; Matthew and Aming, two wonderful and newly-wedded souls; and Mary, who I jokingly refer to as my friend from the womb because she has been part of my life since we were newborn babies in rural Michigan. The very fact that for the second year in a row I spent Thanksgiving at Mary’s cozy apartment in Queens is something of a miracle to me.

And finally I am so thankful for all of the new people in my life, my New School classmates, who bend and expand my mind daily; my roommate Eilon, who is not only incredibly cool and considerate, but a masterful chef in our tiny kitchen; and my boyfriend Siddique, whose abundant virtues start at intelligent, thoughtful and sweet but are too exhaustingly extensive for me to write or for you to read.

I know, this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech that continues after the music starts to swell. Perhaps I have blathered on a bit too long. By now I could probably use the assistance of two elegantly dressed women to drag me from the podium. But before I conclude this post there is one person who I wish I could thank, but can’t. My brother Jeffrey died from suicide in March 2003, and even though he is not here his life undeniably shapes the way I live my own. His memory is a constant reminder to try and be the best person I can be, to reach out to others who are in need, and that no matter how difficult or painful life may seem at times, it will get better.

There are so many people (far too many to individually name) who make my life better, each and every day. And for each and every one of you I am everlastingly and unabatedly thankful. This day and every day. Thank you, and be kind.

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