I’m only decently good at gratitude, really.
I mean, it flows out of me pretty abundantly, when I’m feeling good, but I am very prone to dwelling on the hardships, such that sighs escalate and my darling oldest son pipes up with zingers like, “I guess this is how Mrs. King felt, Mom, when Dr. King was gone so much. I mean, she didn’t have to deal with snow, I guess, but…”
So, mashed potatoes and pecan pie aside (which, really, is sometimes necessary, because they don’t always fit on my main plate!), Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.
I work very well under pressure, and Thanksgiving’s expectation of demonstrated gratitude serve as a good reminder to focus on all that I have. This is, as always, an incomplete list. I’m thankful for that, too.
Too many things for which to be grateful, to even fit them all on one list?
- The greatest colleagues ever: I mean, really. I get to work with people who I genuinely like, honestly respect, and fervently admire. Every day. It’s incredible.
- Our nanny: Can I just say how amazing it is, as a parent, to know that your kids love to be with the person who cares for them while you work? And that she is part of their lives, and our family, forever? I’m especially grateful for her on the rainy days, because, secretly, I love when my work calendar works out like that!
- My new treadmill: Grateful for workouts I don’t have to think about, for 40 minutes a day that only belong to me, and for not having to crank the incline manually any more. Grateful for feeling good, and strong, because I have a lot of fighting to do over the next 50 years.
- Twitter: I’m thankful for my own personal clipping service, of sorts, where people smarter (and with more time) than I do the heavy lifting so that I just have to scan headlines. I love having conversations with people all over the country–even the globe–about work we all care about.
- My husband: Most days, every really wonderfully good thing that comes into my life is due to him: these incredible kids he made it possible for me to parent, the foundation of a strong marriage that gives me the strength to face another day, the latte that he learned to make me at home. The kids know that I consider him the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Now you, my Internet family, do too.
- Smart nonprofit CEOs: I’m not trying to start a pity party for CEOs, but I sometimes think they get a raw deal. They struggle with all of the pressures of an executive in the corporate world, with little of the immediate payoff. And, sure, there are some who aren’t up to all of the challenges of running a dynamic organization in today’s climate, and we see those strains. But I spend most of my day with nonprofit leaders who are spending their lunch hours working on messaging, their evenings calling policymakers, their Saturdays going to fundraising events, and their should-be-sleeping hours thinking about how to keep their staff motivated. I learn from them every day. And I am grateful.
- Our National Park system: Maybe if every taxpayer received a photo of the Grand Canyon with their 1040, we wouldn’t have such a tax revolt mentality. Because, seriously, people: it is amazing. And we protect it. Together. It’s an incredible thing, the commons, and I am thankful for it.
- DREAMers: I am thankful for their youth and their impatience and their enthusiasm and their wisdom and their fearlessness. I am thankful for their commitment and their love for their families and this country. They will not only reshape immigration policy; they will reconfigure this nation. And we will all be thankful.
- Public school educators: My son has had some really great teachers these last couple of years. Really, really, impressively great. I cannot imagine our lives, or his learning, without them, and I am so thankful that I don’t have to. Every child deserves a great public school. And every public school teacher deserves our gratitude. And our compensation. And our respect.
- The omnipresent ‘village’: I have been thankful for this in years past, but it gets recycled here, because I could not survive without it. I am grateful for the global village that makes my life possible–the Iranian woman who alters my clothes and the Mexican woman who cleans our house and the Chinese woman who teaches Sam yoga. I’m thankful for the woman who cuts my hair so I don’t have to blow-dry it. I am grateful for organizations that understand how much help I need, from the nonprofit whose volunteer activities include young children, to the stores installing drive-throughs to the libraries that hire incredible children’s services staff. And I am grateful for the social network that holds our lives in their warm embrace, and for the chance to nurture that community, with and for my children.
- Powerful research: My work with the Assets and Education Initiative has renewed my hope, I guess, in the power of data to at least start policy conversations. We’re capturing policymakers’ attention with research about the effects of financial aid policy on educational inequities, and I get a real adrenaline rush when I read new results and just know that we’re going to get some traction with these.
- Apps: Seriously, what did I do before I could stream NPR while I run or have every This American Life episode at my fingertips or renew my library books while I’m at the park with the kids or add items to my husband’s to-do list while in line at the grocery store? Thank you, techies. You read my mind.
- Truth-tellers: I am grateful for people like John Lewis, whose raw statement after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act still haunts me. And Malala Yousafzai. And Zach Wahls. And Robert Egger. Prophecy is powerful, and so needed. Thank you.
- Marriage equality: When we told the kids that their nanny was marrying her partner, they had questions. Like, “Will there be a fancy party?” “Will we get to drink Sprite?” In our house, we’re pro-love, pro-commitment, pro-fairness. America is catching up.
- You: For giving me a reason to keep writing and reading and thinking and talking about policy, and social change, and social justice. With the expectation that someone just might be listening. I am thankful for you.
What are you thankful for?