It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada.
As someone who technically immigrated (I was already a citizen, does that count?), Thanksgiving doesn’t have a lot of cultural resonance for me. I’m largely unaware of the historical context of the holiday. I’ve heard that it mostly revolves around Colonial settlers taking land from the natives, which in turn has been whitewashed for a more positive narrative. Seems not worth celebrating, but okay. Aside from the concept of eating- a concept I’m intimately (don’t ask how intimately) familiar with- parts of it still feel foreign to me. Turkey: Turkey isn’t a common meat of choice back in NZ. I’d say that lamb probably occupies its space in the cultural holiday consciousness. A big leg of lamb with gravy and mint sauce. Choice as, bro. Cranberry sauce doesn’t really appear much back home. Neither does pumpkin anything outside soup. I’m not used to sweet pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is still a so-so dessert in my eyes and heart. Pumpkin beer is weird. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have never appealed much to me. Not because I have any fundamental issue with sweet caffeinated drinks. I love quirky sweet things. I’ve just rarely enjoyed anything I’ve gotten from Starbucks.
As an aside [should’ve been an alternate name for this writing project -Ed], I had the first PSL that I’ve ever enjoyed, yesterday. It was from an independent cafe in Simcoe County. I saw their sign for PSLs, and I asked them if it was the usual syrup. “Oh no, we make all our syrups in house. We use pureed pumpkin and a bunch of spices for this one.” I was sold. If I was gonna have a good one, this seemed like my best shot. Turns out it was yum. Very sweet, so I have no earthly idea if the underlying coffee was any good. Still, new experience!
So aside from eating, I’m a Thanksgiving newbie. The past few years, we’ve had an off and on again tradition of Orphan’s Thanksgiving. It’s an excellent excuse (as if we need one) for the aforementioned eating. It’s a better excuse (as if we need one) to have friends around, and a questionable excuse (do I need to repeat myself again?) to drink a lot. We’ve usually had this running game going at our Thanksgivings, that at any point someone can make a toast, and everyone has to join them. The toaster will say “I’m happy for ________”, everyone cheers, raises their glasses and has a drink. It gets silly and abstract, and that’s part of it. This year I’m working. I opted to take a shift so a co-worker could spend the evening with his family and young children. I’m pretty much missing out on big Thanksgiving events. Boo hoo.
That said, I’m not without thanks. This year has been huge for me. Massively transformative, and I think it’s worth holding gratitude for that. This year marked the lowest I’ve yet sunk into depression. My brain was abuzz with thoughts that, while not entirely incorrect, spiralled out of proportion and took over my conscious mind. Ordinary operation function became difficult to maintain, and my mental health dipped into dangerous territory. Seeking help and taking anti-depressants turned things around in such a huge way. I regained a lot of what made me, me. The meds enabled me to take control, instead of losing myself. They helped me get more in touch with what I wanted, and finding ways to head towards those things. I hold enormous amounts of gratitude for my friends and girlfriend who destigmatised their use, and allowed me to not feel shame in accepting help. I’m so thankful to have a doctor who actually listened to my concerns, trusted me, counselled me, while ultimately putting the choice in my hands. I’m thankful for my boss at the time. While the job itself caused me no end of existential stress, she really came through with compassion and lenience, allowing me to take the space and time I needed when I needed it. If I needed to work from home, leave early for a consult, if I felt mentally foggy and couldn’t finish the day, she trusted me to know what I could do, and to speak up when I wasn’t able to work. I’m thankful for that.
I’m thankful for finally finding something professionally that lights me up. I really do love my job, and even when I’m not doing my favourite kind of programming, I’m still tremendously happy for the floor to be so high. I’m so grateful to be providing a service that actively helps people, that furthers accessibility, especially for children with low vision. I’m thankful for my bosses, who trust me as a professional and provide me with the resources I need. I’m thankful for my co-workers, who are all lovely guys, only too happy to share tips or knowledge. Although it’s wholly new territory for me, I haven’t faced one iota of condescension since beginning this role, and it makes me feel so much better about the job I’m doing.
I’m so thankful, as ever, for the community I’ve found here. I’m surrounded by warm, creative and explorative people. It’s rare that I’m ever truly bored, lonely, or unstimulated, and most of that comes with the support my friends give so freely. It constantly makes me want to give back as much as I can.
Mostly though, I’m thankful to have so much gratitude in my life. I want to hold onto that for as long as I can.