I’m so annoyed. It’s 1999 and I’m so annoyed because my little cousin, Jack, has once again stolen my thunder.  This was supposed to be MY Thanksgiving play, and he has completely hijacked it with his adorable two-year-old self. Why had I even bothered to write this script about the journey on the Mayflower if Jack was going to rewrite it? I gave him one job-ONE JOB. He was supposed to wave on cue when we presented him as the kid who was born on the transatlantic voyage. But here he is-dancing in front of my makeshift Mayflower made of two artists easels and a sheet, while my other cousins/castmates and I try to figure out how to continue onward with our educational and dramatic tale. I quit- what’s the point, all the adults are laughing at his adorable performance, and I know I’ve been upstaged. At least there are mashed potatoes in my immediate future.

Thanksgivings for me have always been a little weird. In the early years my cousins came to visit us in Michigan, but excluded me from their dances and little plays (there is video evidence of this crime.) So naturally, years later, I tried to recreate these holiday-themed plays and stories with my little cousins, (my older cousins and siblings had now outgrown the desire to perform original works of art for their trapped audience of older relatives.) Now I was in charge. “No you will NOT play with your new Christmas toy we need to REHEARSE.” Soon my cousins/victims were spared the fate of spending Thanksgiving with a tyrannical ginger dictator, because our Thanksgivings took us on the road. My sister Mary competed annually in the Oireachtas. (The regional Irish Step Dancing competition held over Thanksgiving weekend.) So, my Thanksgiving turkey was replaced with hotel macaroni and cheese and crazy moms telling their daughters they better WIN or they won’t be getting a new Irish Dance wig. (Disclaimer- my sweet parents, who are the anti-stage parents, would bring their books, help us get ready, and then say “Okay, now just come get me before you dance and I’ll come watch. Have fun!” Meanwhile a curly-headed, spray-tanned child four feet away would be mid-breakdown due to parental pressure.) When Irish Dancing ceased to be a part of my life I resumed traditional Thanksgiving Day festivities, but then theatre and work and life got in the way, making it a holiday that I don’t always get to share with family. All in all, its always been a delicious, unpredictable occasion.

Yesterday’s Thanksgiving for me included working and then hanging out with my pal Sarah while we ate delicious cookies and watched Terms of Endearment. Often Thanksgiving morning is a whirl of chaotic baking and cooking and preparing for the feast. But I spent yesterday morning alone in my apartment- alone except for Simon. (Simon is the mouse I saw last night. I confess I gasped and jumped atop the couch when I saw him. Though I was quite impressed by his small size/cuteness, and named him Simon.) After his exit, I wondered to myself, perhaps if I see him again I shall train him and together we can put on a Thanksgiving show like the good old days.. (Jokes- that would NEVER happen….we all know Simon would probably try to take the spotlight/ wanna invite his other mice friends over to my apartment to be in the ensemble, and I just don’t have the choreography skills/patience to be dealing with more than one mouse, ya know?)

Solitude on Thanksgiving means lots of time to reflect on how crazy grateful I am for all the wonderful people, and things, and opportunities in my life. I actually purchased a gratitude journal earlier in the year, in an attempt to keep my journal entries from turning into a downward spiral of negativity as they sometimes tend to do. I consider myself a cheerful person, and when things are going great, I want to live in the moment. I don’t want to step back to record delightful happenings, because I hate to miss anything. When things aren’t going great, I just wanna write and wallow, and write and wallow. Unfortunately, the gratitude journal, even with its helpful prompts- breathe deeply and list three things you are grateful for, doesn’t keep me from the occasional angsty writing spiral. I blatantly disregard its kind nudging- write a thank you note to someone you love and see how it makes your feel– and instead angrily scribble, “I missed every single train today by 2 seconds. 2 SECONDS. Why does this always happen to meeeeee?” Lately, I’ve had more upbeat reflections, because I realized that my inconveniences/annoyances are not tragic enough to be interesting, so I might as well reflect on the happy, good, weird stuff- because that’s more fun.  AND I get to live in a cool city where I observe happy, good, and weird stuff often. And now I am taking the time to reflect on my blessings/ express gratitude to those I love. So this Thanksgiving weekend I wanna say thanks to

– My family, because they are just the best. I got suuuuper lucky to be born into this fantastic group of creative, fun, compassionate, encouraging, and hilarious bunch of gemstones, who I miss so much

– My friends- you’re all gorgeous rockstars who make this world a much happier place.

-The Universe, for all the cool things that await me in 2016. Right, Universe? Right?? I’m counting on it

-Susan Branch for her lovely recipes, stories, and illustrations that are getting me into the holiday spirit

-Vince Guaraldi for creating my favorite Christmas album of all time

-Simon the mouse, for being discreet and not reappearing yet today

-Trader Joes for all their Pumpkin flavored treats

-Ann Patchett, whose amazing writing is keeping me uplifted and entertained today

-The weather- thanks for a pretty day, NYC!

-Anyone who’s reading this- I hope your day is great

-All the people who are bravely facing injustice and working to make our world a peaceful place. <3

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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