Thursday, November 24, 2016 5:00 PM
I am alone this Thanksgiving, but only because I’m not well enough to go to the big party at Nana’s house, down the road in Heritage Hills—there’ll be a bunch of people there, fifteen or so—well, fourteen without me, I guess. But Claire and Spencer will be back later—and they’ll probably bring me some leftovers—so don’t feel sorry for me. I’m living the life o’Riley here.
What am I thankful for? Well, in my case, no special day is required—I’m grateful for everything that Claire does for me every day. Being disabled can be, I’m sure, a terrible hardship without the kind of support that my family gives me. But even the disabled who have it good, like me, spend a large part of every day saying, “Thank you”. It’s what happens when you can’t do anything for yourself. And on top of that, you need to be grateful that you have such people in your life—Thanksgiving-ers who go one day a year–please… ya got nothing on us disableds.
But, being as I am brings a sharp focus to that very issue. There are so many things I cannot do for myself, that I’ve been forced to accept that being dependent on others is no crime—it is, in fact, a constant. You may be healthy, successful, and strong—the opposite of me—but you, too, depend on other people. Not nearly as much as I do. But the interdependence of society is what makes it possible to live our lives without having to do everything for ourselves.
Even when we transact business—yes, perhaps a profit is won or lost, a living is made, whatever—but you would not be doing business with anyone, unless they had something you can’t easily get for yourself—and you had something they needed in return. We talk a lot about the ‘profit motive’, but the real motive behind commerce is interdependency. When we buy some fresh bread, we may neglect to acknowledge that some shmoe got up before the sun, did all the work, and had it there waiting for you—but respect is still due—and gratitude.
Yes, you have to pay for the bread—but if it wasn’t there, your money would do you no good. And we bake our own bread, on rare occasions when Spencer is in the mood, here—but trust me, you don’t want that as a regular part of every morning. We depend on bakers—and they depend on us for their stuff—it’s a giant web of interdependency—and even if there was no money involved, that would still continue, somehow.
Gratitude is hardly different from simple awareness of how little we can do, all by ourselves—and recognition that it’s nice to have other people’s help.