I am thankful for everything I am and everything I’m going to be. That I’m allowed to dream, and form my own opinions, and that I have access to so much knowledge at my fingertips. That I have people to talk to, and new people to meet, and people who care about me.
I’m thankful sunsets inspire me, that people listen to live music, and that books are being read.
I’m thankful that good people exist in the world – the kind of people who tell you that you remind them of their daughter whom they wouldn’t want to be lost, so they give you their spare change to pay for bus fare.
I’m thankful for bus drivers who drop you off where it’s not a designated stop because it’s late and they want to bring you as close as they can to the place you need to be.
I’m thankful for the sound of rain, and old couples who still hold hands, and people who stand up for what they believe in.
I’m thankful that I have sisters, that cameras were invented, that rainbows exist; for the smell of baking wafting from the kitchen oven, for the leaves that change colour in the fall, reminding me that change is natural.
I’m thankful that art is being created, that people line up for hours to get into museums, and that I can hear the birds singing outside my window. I’m thankful for people who share their umbrella, who ask you how you’re doing and really mean it, and who find a way to help you even if they don’t speak the same language as you.
I’m thankful that even though I have the opportunity to learn multiple languages, smiles are part of the language of the universe that everyone can understand.
I’m thankful I can talk to my family even when I’m not at home. I’m thankful that my dream of living in Europe has come true – that I got to see the sun set over the Eiffel tower, that I wandered down the canals of Amsterdam, that I lay in the Alps feeling the sun warm my face. I’m thankful I have a home to go back to.
Sleeping on the floor of a train station makes me thankful for my bed. Walking, walking, and walking until my feet are so tired they feel like they are going to fall off, makes me thankful I have legs and space to run. And even though I’m having problems with my contacts and keep complaining that the sun is too bright, I’m thankful I have eyes to gaze at the world and that the sun illuminates the sky.
I recently visited some of the darkest and most chilling moments in human history – and I know that there are still dark and chilling moments occurring in the world right now – and it makes me feel so humbled to live the life I lead. To have been born into the country I was and into the family I was; at the right place at the right time.
I have more things I am thankful for than I can possibly list: that the world hasn’t been able to turn me cold, that I still believe in the goodness of people despite certain things, and that when I don’t believe in myself, other people believe in me.
Even though I can’t treat myself to a pumpkin spice latte to celebrate fall, or buy a new pair of fall boots ‘just because,’ or go see a movie in theaters (frankly, I don’t even know which movies are in theaters at the moment, except for The Martian), I’m happy that I’m experiencing so much of life, growing in ways I never imagined, and forging myself into a more compassionate and open-minded citizen of the world.
I spent Thanksgiving Day sitting in a five hour car ride back to Madrid where all I had to eat was a pastry, and I realized I don’t need a turkey and a pumpkin pie to celebrate being grateful – because I felt more thankful this Thanksgiving than all my other Thanksgivings which were complete with second helpings of mashed potatoes. Maybe appreciating what you have is easier when you have ‘nothing,’ maybe you don’t need a lot to have a lot, maybe thankfulness simply comes from waking up and realizing that you have another day to make your dreams come true.
But if everything you value in your life were to evaporate like the sudden pop of a bubble, what would you do? I’d find a way to blow more bubbles. And then I’d enjoy and appreciate them while they were floating beside me – especially the simple things about them. The way they glisten when they catch the sunlight at just the right angle, the way they sometimes latch onto other bubbles, the way they float peacefully…
Life is still confusing, people are still confusing, growing up is still hard, but I’m so thankful this is the life I have, and that you – whoever you are – are somehow in it. Happy late Thanksgiving.