Emily Articulated

A different kind of thankful

By Emily Erickson
Reader Columnist

This Thanksgiving looks a bit different than last, with fewer miles traveled and loved ones feeling the distance of six feet apart. It won’t be a day with plates piled quite so high or with chairs stacked atop one another in the closeness that comes from a table being just a bit too small to hold all the love. Rooms won’t be packed shoulder to shoulder with cousins or far off friends, and the din of togetherness won’t boom so loudly in its mixture of nostalgia and familiar conversations.

Emily Erickson.

In the grandeur of a normal holiday, it’s easy to feel gratitude, to be filled with the warmth of being surrounded by the people that mean the most to you. But this year, gratitude isn’t such a flashy thing — the subtle thankfulness requiring more intention and practice. 

For me, this means tuning in to my immediate surroundings, finding love for my life as it is, and not for what it was or what it will become. 

It means being thankful for all the little things that aren’t grand on their own but, together, add up to the beautiful life I’m so lucky to live.

So, this year, I’m grateful for my couch — its worn fabric backing acting as the backdrop for moments of comfort, coziness and love. It has big red cushions, cracked from the weight of their many uses — seamlessly shifting from dozing pet beds, to movie theater chairs, to soft reading seats and back again. Its broad wooden arms hold the relics of every day, serving as a landing strip for coffee mugs, paperback books, used pencils and folded newspapers.

This year I’m grateful for my stove, its knobs and dials flickering in time to the daily cadence of our lives. As sure as our feet press the floor in the morning, the same silver pot gets filled for our French press. And as the sun fades from afternoon to dusk, warming the sky with the shades of evening, the right front burner gets set aglow, warming the food prepared with love, care and fresh ingredients.

Today, I’m thankful for my kitchen counter, its tempered surface splashed with memories of my childhood tabletop. The same bowls of cereal are topped with milk and questions like, “How was your day?” and, “Did you learn anything new?” have been passed down generations, just to be peppered into the mealtimes of my little family, too. The same bills my mom cut open also lay atop my counters, quietly reminding me that life goes on, no matter who’s living it.

Today, I’m thankful for my art desk, its paint-splattered shelves holding all the whimsical ideas my brain can manufacture. Oil pastels sprawl from edge to edge, providing a colorful respite for anything life throws at me. In my little corner, in my little art chair, a blank piece of paper is a world waiting to be remade, in which wolves can be purple and mountains a soft, glowing pink. Rules and convention can fade away, with only endless opportunity remaining on my ink-stained fingertips.

This year I’m grateful for my bathroom sink, and all the stories swapped between mouthfuls of toothpaste. I’m thankful for my warm, soft bed, and the long nights of slumber that lead to well-rested mornings. 

I’m filled with appreciation for my rickety front porch, and the rocking chair that lives on it — the perfect accompaniments to cool summer evenings and crisp, hoppy beers. 

I’m grateful for the banjo on my wall waiting patiently to be played, and all the other props complimenting my full and wonderful life.

This year, I wish you all the happiest Thanksgiving, with hopes that no matter what the day has in store, you find time to find something to be grateful for.

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