There is a turkey currently taking up residence in my fridge, and 10 apples waiting to become apple cider on top of the stove. My counters are covered in supplies for our upcoming dinner feast — stuffing mixes, green beans, cinnamon sticks, potatoes, pies. I think my kitchen, and my apartment on a whole, is happiest on the eve of hosting something special. Hosting in any capacity feels like such an intimate and personal way to shower people I love with love, and it’s something I’ve missed most over the last year.
This is the first year I will be spending Thanksgiving without my family, and it’s taken a minute to let the idea sink in. It’s only a year (fingers crossed) and how lucky we’ve been that we’ve gotten to spend every other holiday together until this point?
Thanksgiving is a cornerstone holiday in the Lanning household both in California, and since my move, in New York — where despite all the obstacles we still manage to produce a multi-course feast from the depths of my microscopic boat kitchen. For what my apartment lacks in counter space (I have one two foot counter) it makes up for in framed art and cat hair — which I’ll try my best not to get in your Thanksgiving meal.
Traveling to California wasn’t an option for me and my clan this year. We’ll have a wonderful reunion post-vaccine, and so my little New York City family and I will be curling up together for more food than we need, more booze that four people could possibly consume, and maybe a few hands of Monopoly Deal to commemorate the year. It’s a different Thanksgiving, but special in its own way, a small celebration of the little sweetnesses that have bloomed throughout this tricky year.
And if nothing else, the taco truck is open down the street should my first solo turkey cooking experience go entirely wrong.
This year has been a practice in finding gratitude. I’ll be honest, some days it feels like I’m going through the motions, listing things off without giving them much intentional thought. But the more I’ve done it, the more I’ve narrowed in on the delightfully joyful things that often get overlooked in my daily life.
The smell of a new candle burning after a long day. When the cats curl up into the tightest balls on my lap and demand to be held. When I take a walk around the neighborhood, even though it feels like too much work, and it lifts a weight I didn’t realize I was caring. My mum’s daily text messages. Green tea with mint.
But what I’ve been grateful for recently is the privileged ability I have to find the silver lining in this moment. It means I have enough security, and that I’m not just functioning in a survival mindset, to be able to step back and reflect about the ways I’ve grown and changed this year. That’s a huge huge privilege.
And more so than ever before, I’m constantly grateful for my health and my loved one’s health, my job security, the safety of my apartment, my access to healthcare and quality food. These are all unfortunately privileges in this country, though they should instead be basic human rights. So this year, my list of gratitudes are tiny moments that stand out amongst the unusual backdrop of this year — a year of both overwhelming change and routine.
Wherever you are in your 2020 journey, whether you’re knee deep in journal entries or taking it hour by hour, I hope this holiday season allows you moments to find or be found by the sun. And while your Thanksgiving dinner probably looks quite different, I hope gratitude finds you amongst the dishes cooked or ordered with love.
A Tiny List of Tiny Things I’m Grateful for in 2020
- The combined feelings of softness and security gifted by my favorite yoga pants.
- Making my mom cry laugh.
- Watching the wind gust outside my window while being inside under a pile of cats with the radiator steaming away and curry cooking on the stove.
- The Sadaf tea my friend Maria’s dad sends for me and is the most delicious tea in the world.
- Seeing in a work email: “Send me a list of books you want and I’ll mail them over.”
- Muji colored pens.
- Penny Dreadful on Netflix. And the accomplishment of finishing Penny Dreadful on Netflix and then trying to hold a whole discussion about its feminist meaning with a boyfriend who hasn’t seen it.
- Setting realistic goals that I can actually accomplish.
- Taking breaks regularly and not just when I’m a step away from burning out.
- That fall smell.
- Eliminating bits of unnecessary life noise, and being rewarded with feeling more at home in myself and aware of my north stars than ever before.
- Facetime. What an incredible invention.
- The mornings I pop out of bed with the first alarm.
- When a meeting gets canceled and suddenly my day is all my own.
- My mouth guard, which has basically saved my teeth this year from being ground into pulps at night from stress.
- My movie club with V.
- Finding my power outfit which is a black jumpsuit with tigers on it, worn over a gray turtleneck, accessorized by layers of jewelry.
- Butterfly stretches.
- Cat snores.
- Friendships where you feel like there is never enough time to catch up and talk about everything on your mind.
- Worn-in sweatshirts with gold jewelry.
- Surprise care packages from family and handwritten letters from my Grandma.
- When the meaning of the book’s title is revealed in the book.
- Hitting a deadline.
- Laughing out loud at an internet meme.
- NOT knowing what’s trending on YouTube.
- The moment the subway emerges onto the Manhattan Bridge and a million dollar view of New York City unfolds.
- Stove top popcorn with two tablespoons butter and salt.
- Meeting friends for park dates or walks in the city.
- Surprising people.
- “Thinking of You” texts.