One of my most vivid UC Santa Cruz memories is of the dorm house’s RA knocking on my door and inviting me to the Rainbow Theater’s Thanksgiving Day Play and Discussion Group–do you enjoy your turkey with a side of GENOCIDE!?
For the next few years I couldn’t really enjoy the holiday. In the back of my mind, I had this irritation, this sense that I somehow had to justify my lack of guilt. Because let’s be honest: my ancestors stole a fucking continent, but I don’t want to spend the holiday thinking about that. But I never really felt thankful, either. I felt obligated to feel thankful. Or, no, I liked the idea of being, not thankful per say (I don’t believe in a deity to thank) but appricative. I liked the idea of taking a day out of our hyper-consumptive lives, sitting around with friends and family and appricating what we have instead of fretting about what we don’t. But however much I thought the idea was beautfiul, I never lived it. I never felt appricative of anything but the day off and the free feast. And somehow, this insistence–not entirely unjustified, if a little shrill on my RA’s part–that we temper our apprication with the understanding of the grim history behind white settler expansion gnawed at me. Frustrated me. Made me realize that I wasn’t thankful.
I don’t have that problem anymore. Neither the guilt, nor the irritation. I understand the history, I remember it. But I don’t let it prevent me from enjoying a day of being happy for what I’ve got. Because this year, I have something to be truly thankful for. This year, I have a real reason to stop whining about what I don’t have, and take a moment to count what I do. I did before, but now I know, now I can feel it.
And what I have is this:
I have a place to live, that I pay for with my own money from my own labor. I have food that I eat that doesn’t come with a side of foodstamp flavored shame. I have hormones that my doctors can’t deny me anymore. And most of all, I have friends who saved my life.
I am thankful not to be homeless. I am thankful that I can transition.
I am thankful not to be alone.