Hell Yeah, I’m Thankful!

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The holidays, for many, carry an array of emotions. Each holiday has its own set of rules to abide by, even the unspoken ones, and its own traditions that we follow. For Valentine’s Day, we eat the little nasty ass sweetheart candy and buy our longtime crush a val-o-gram, anonymously of course, while hating on everyone else’s corny Instagram posts. On Saint Patty’s Day, we wear green and drink like we’re about to get a replacement liver a few days later. Christmas consists of going to church, spiked eggnog and that annoying aunt with the shitty gifts that you hope she still has the receipt for. And for Thanksgiving, we give a laundry list of things that we couldn’t live without. So, here’s my list.

1. Technology: On a daily, I find myself amazed by the ingenuity that is the human brain. The ways we are able to create new materials, gadgets, and even languages blow my mind. Some nights I find myself up, looking at the ceiling in the dark, thinking about all of the amazing inventions that have been created while wondering what is to come. For example, Bluetooth headphones, I just bought a pair. How is possible that without any cords I can hear every beat and word on my Spotify playlist? Who thought of this? How does it work, either way, I thankful to have it? Even things more simplistic like a bed with a frame- without it we’d be sleeping on the floor, or what about central heating and cooling? These are things most of us take for granted because we’ve been spoiled and fail to realize that this technology doesn’t exist in other places. Damn, aren’t we lucky? But mostly, I’m thankful for the innovators that help shape the world and make our daily lives easier and easier with every new idea they bring to fruition. How astounding?

2. My imagination: How boring would the world be if I couldn’t daydream? At some point, many people were taught that their imaginations didn’t serve them and that a practical, logical way of thinking- void of creativity- was the best way to survive. I think part of that is true. Practicality keeps you alive but imagination helps you live. As a kid, playing “lava floor” and pretending I had the power to control the weather brought me great joy and it still does. I have the ability to fall into another world at whim, meeting new characters and trying new things. It gets even better when I sleep. When I wake up those visions stay with me to reflect on later and inspire action in the real world. My imagination helps me to be empathetic, innovative and creative- all things I couldn’t live without. I am also blessed to have such an active one.

3. At one point, when I was much younger, I wasn’t thankful for this. In fact, I used to say I hated it. I used to wish for a new one but as I started to mature, gain more understanding, and come into myself I realized that I would be a fool if I didn’t appreciate my family. As someone who marches to the beat of their own drum and under the watchful eye of every bigot that walks the same streets as me, I have grown to appreciate my family on another level. Yes, I still talk shit and give them a hard time but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I came out, my family did more than accept me- they loved me. There are so many people who cannot say the same. I was never put out, disowned, told I was going to hell or felt like they were ashamed to be seen with me in public because of my appearance. I was so scared that I would be treated differently, that I hid parts of myself from myself to spare the ones I loved when in fact, they would love me no matter what.

This is the true meaning of unconditional love. My brother still hugs me, my sister still does my hair, my little brother still gets on my nerves every chance he gets, my stepdad still calls to check on me, my grandmother still doles out her wisdom to me and mother will still go to jail if a bitch tries to fuck with me. They even took the time to travel states away to see me so I’d have my family for the holidays. I love my family. I love the family I was blessed with because life is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you don’t have people who support you. There are so many gay, trans, lesbian and nonbinary people who have been cast out by the people they thought were their family only to have to enter the world alone and piece together another one of strangers.

I am lucky to not only have a makeshift group of friends who love me the same but the people I share a bloodline with as well. There is no better feeling. I found myself sitting at the kitchen table next to my grandmother and mother at three o’clock in the morning peeling sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner in a few hours. They both sat across from me reassuring their love and reminiscing about all the bad stuff I did growing up, how many ass-whoopings I needed. I’ll cherish that memory but know I’ll have many more to come because there’s nothing like family.

So, there you have it. This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for the wonders that make this world livable, the storybook that lives in my head and the people that showed me the definition of unconditional love when we are stuck in a world where conditions influence happiness.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What are you thankful for?

N.D. Johnson

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

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