How to be Thankful when You Feel there is Nothing to be Thankful for

Here are two things you need to know. First, I don’t know you. Second, it doesn’t matter. Because what I want to tell you has nothing to do with knowing you. I don’t need to know who you are, what you like to do, or how you like to spend your weekends. And I’m not even sure you need to know me to accept these words, but I’ll hand you something either way.

Here’s the something; I don’t like the cold. I mean, I like the type of cold you feel in California. The one that drops to about 70 degrees and takes its time to slowly greet you. There’s not this rush of wind zooming past you, or through you, as it does here in Lancaster. Unlike the friendly cold that I hang out with back in the city of angels, the cold in Lancaster is cruel. It’s an evil thing that enjoys watching you shiver as it whips your neatly combed hair into a frenzy. Honestly, all I want is to walk to class without strands of my hair trying to find shelter in my mouth. Hair isn’t a food group. I shouldn’t continuously have to remove it from my mouth.

I know I said I would only hand you something, but here’s another thing. For every agonizing moment spent fighting the wind as it tries to run off with my jacket, I remember the times when I begged whatever power within ear-shot to cool me down. I remember the nights I spent with my head in the fridge, despite my mom telling me not to, because the house was just too hot. The type of hot that makes you think you’re dehydrated even as you’re drinking a cup of water with some crushed ice floating around. I remember the nights I sneaked into one of my sisters’ room, stole their fan, and slept in a huddled mess with my face directly in front of it.

I actually don’t have a step-by-step guide for you as to how you can be thankful when you feel there is nothing to be thankful for. I apologize for misleading you. Briefly. Because is there really nothing you can think to be thankful for? Perhaps thinking is the problem here. Do you feel there is anything you can be thankful for?

Thankful for.

Thankful to.

Nothing?

What if I told you that this world is overwhelming? That like the cold, it’s unfriendly. What if I acknowledge the immense pain so many people, myself included, currently feel? How that pain is suffocating and how it messes up the strands of our lives. How it moves them around and places them in places they’re not meant to be. How tiring it is to rearrange these strands. Over and over and over again. I mean at least the wind gets tired and stops, but for some reason this world doesn’t believe in pausing.

And what if I told you that you can choose to press pause? You can remember a different time or imagine a better future. You can break the only-break-in-case-of-emergency glass, and no one will judge you for it. And if someone does, then that someone doesn’t matter. Because everything sucks. Because everything feels like the type of cold that wants to immobilize you on your way to class. Remember wanting to go to class. And if you can’t, remember a time when going to class wasn’t so challenging.

Still nothing?

I don’t blame you.

Maybe the goal isn’t to be thankful. Maybe this time around, thankful isn’t what you need. Maybe you need to be angry or sad or cold. Or maybe it’s this freedom to choose how you want to take on the day that you can be thankful for.

Here’s something else you shouldn’t always know, but that you should occasionally remember. The cold sucks, especially when it’s constant and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up. But you can always wrap a blanket around yourself. And if you’re foolish enough, you can wrap your arms around someone else. I once heard, crazy enough, that you don’t always have to face the cold alone. Isn’t that something?