Thanksgiving makes me miss everything.
My parents, my kids when they were young, my old hometown, my grandmother’s house, my dead dogs and cats, accomplishment, potential, myself.
It is hard to explain this without sounding depressed. I am not depressed, not really. What I am is old. And, despite having been old for a good while, I am still astonished by the passage of time. What set me off most recently was this picture.
I remember that hat. It was a big thick hat that protected me from the harsh winter and stiff wind of Flint, Michigan. And I remember the coat – a car coat with a stand-up collar and big buttons. I was probably wearing a turtleneck sweater and wool skirt with high boots. At 22, I was on my third college with a year or two to go but I was going someplace. I was going to be somebody – I just didn’t know who.
I thought I had all the time in the world. And I did. Ridiculously more time than many people, unearned good fortune, surprisingly smooth sailing after a few rocky years pushing out from shore. And even now, comparatively few worries – there are some significant ones, but I’ve grown calluses around them that numb their impact.
Gratitude is sweet and functional and good for one’s mental health. And if you’re an older person, wise, as well, because gratitude keeps you in a restful, content state, the way you felt as a child when you got everything you wanted for Christmas and arranged the gift display in your bedroom. You temporarily suspended thinking about what you wanted next year to revel in this year’s bounty. As old people, we are supposed to appreciate the bounty, stay in that place in our heads.
Instead, I am missing everyone and everything. Myself. That hat.
It’s temporary. I blame Thanksgiving.