And, by all accounts, 2016 has been a very bad year in most people's lives. Well, certainly the people I speak to. There are a lot more Eeyores around than Winnie the Poohs. There is more to deal with, more stress, more hardship. More evil, generally. So being thankful this year isn't exactly coming naturally.
Thanksgiving is the start of the season of hope - advent, and then theoretically, the new year can be welcomed with optimism and renewed energy.
I'm so not feeling it. At all.
But that's why they established this as a Tradition. So that the moaners like me had no excuse. We had to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving. We had to clean up, prepare food, welcome our family. And then, the Most Dreadful Thing, we had to sit down at a table together and be thankful. Out loud.
And although I cringe at the thought, knowing that I have to go through the motions does engender in me a tiny little spark. Maybe, just maybe, I will find something? One tiny, small, insignificant thing to be thankful for. And maybe the way I express it will make the person next to me smile, or squeeze my hand, or even see my pain. And if I'm really honest, that hope will bud. A small pop of thanks into an acorn of - not quite optimism - more like okayness. A settling sigh of not feeling quite as alone as I did before. Because around the table, if I look hard enough, another person is also struggling to be grateful, and biting back the cynicism. Uncle Albert, perhaps?
A burst of extravagant gratitude for all my many blessings is way too much to expect. But hope, you see, starts small. It doesn't have to be filled with awe and wonder, it just has to be hard and real. Undeniable. True.
And such hope does not disappoint. It groans, but it also grows. And sometimes, that's all we can expect. It's enough.
Here's a little thanksgiving song for you and me. I like this version the best - from a guy whose wife had a bad day. It went viral in SA.
And here's the full version - from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Beautiful.
And last - this version you can sing along to - with the words of all four verses.
Happy thanksgiving weekend.