With all the talk of Black Friday, it seems we skip right over Thanksgiving and shift our focus sharply to Christmas. We treat Thanksgiving like it’s the opening act for Black Friday.
Well, there’s no way I can forget about Thanksgiving. Every year, around this time, I get inexplicably teary eyed about once every other day. I cry tears of gratitude.
Many people don’t think this way, but I’ve never felt I deserve the life I have. It’s hard to put in words, so I hope you don’t misunderstand me. With all the suffering that goes on in this world, I can’t help but feel fortunate and extremely thankful that I, through no doing of my own, was born to a loving family in a free country.
Although I don’t have a relationship with my biological father, I thank God for my real dad who entered my life, to love me like his own, when I was only eight months old.
It may seem weird to some people, but every single year, as Thanksgiving approaches, the thoughts of my ancestors repeatedly enter my mind. When I was in the seventh grade, my history teacher assigned her students the task of creating a family tree. My grandmother died when I was two years old. Besides her sister, I really didn’t have access to anyone else who could shed some light on my lineage. When I asked my mama for help on crafting a family tree, she told me I wouldn’t be able to venture very far back into my family’s past.
Like my mother, I’ll be blunt. The assignment was difficult because I and my ancestors are black. With all the pesky slavery going on, keeping detailed records of family history likely proved either a low priority or an impossibility.
Upon completing the assignment, we were to present our findings to the class. After 15 years, I don’t remember ever reporting the results of my research. But strangely, I remember a classmate who created a timeline that stretched back to the 1600s. Mine abruptly stopped with my great great grandmother. It was the least developed family tree in my entire class. I felt ashamed. Like I was an incomplete person.
I no longer feel that way. Although slavery was no doubt horrendous, I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I was born in the land my ancestors originated from. For not having to endure those scary thoughts, I’m grateful.
You probably think I’m weird for reflecting on such a thing. That’s fine. Every year, around this time, I get teary eyed. I’m thankful for these tears.
Regardless of how strange, shallow, or ridiculous, what are you thankful for?