It’s November. The days are getting shorter. They should be getting colder. And chances are, smoke from the fires in the western part of the state may be making your eyes burn. It’s hard to take a deep breath and put 2016 in perspective. In fact, many are calling it an awful year — even before the elections! We still have over a month to go before we toast to a shiny, new 2017.
But since it’s November, let’s think of some things to be thankful for. I like to make a list every year that includes everything from my family to clean sheets to olives. (I love olives. And cheese. I’m really thankful for cheese.) This year, though, I want to share a different sort of thankful-for list with you.
Whether the results of the election make the year better or worse for you, you have to admit, things are a bit tense right now. We are being called a country divided. Our state went red with little blue islands. The KKK is marching here in December. We don’t even know who our next governor will be!
So here’s a list of post-election thankful fors that will help us get through a Thanksgiving where the only division will be of the turkey and the only islands the mashed potatoes in your gravy.
- I’m thankful for my library. It offers free storytime and music classes for babies and toddlers, homework support and book clubs for teens, classes on finance and health for adults. It’s a place for children to play (quietly) while their caregivers use the internet. It’s a place that embraces diversity on every shelf. I am currently borrowing Colson Whitehead’s award-winning The Underground Railroad. Know that libraries are there for the public, the general good, to help all of us. So borrow a few books. Try one that you wouldn’t normally read and be thankful that we have this free resource that can expand our minds.
- I’m thankful for poetry. 2016 has been a rough year and many people have turned to poetry for solace. Poems have a way of giving us hope, letting us know that we are going to be okay, and reminding us that things could always be otherwise.
- I’m thankful for charities that are doing important work. When the talk turns political at Thanksgiving and your heart hurts, take action and donate to a charity. It will make you feel better in many ways, especially if it benefits a charity that Uncle Steve hates.
- I’m thankful for museums. North Carolina has some great museums and a lot of them are free. I’m so appreciative of the history, beauty, and culture held on their grounds. From dinosaurs to antique cars, to abstract sculpture, museums offer a place where everyone can be engaged in something. Some museums tend to be quiet, and the ones that aren’t are filled with activities, so if you don’t want to engage in discussion with your family, but you have another few days to spend together, head to one of them.
- I’m thankful for television and movies. It’s an escape when we so desperately need one. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and Anne of Green Gables to give my mind a break from politics while I digest the feast. Football. The Macy’s Day Parade. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or the first holiday film of the season. It doesn’t matter. The news can be off for one day.
- I’m thankful for my right to vote. This election was ugly. But I voted. I was not assaulted at the polling station. I was not afraid of getting bombed as I waited in line. I was not arrested for my vote. My family was not killed. And I can protest without fear of exile or violent retribution. That is something for which I owe gratitude. No matter the outcome, we can all be thankful for that.
- I’m thankful for websites like Women AdvaNCe that keep me abreast of issues that matter to my state, women, and me. It also gives a space to discuss what is on my mind with you, to feel connected to like-minded people and enter into discussion with those who don’t share my views. That means I’m also thankful for you, reader, for listening.
What are you thankful for this year?
Jennifer Brick is a freelance writer and former teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.