Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

For a few years now, some friends and I write daily six-item lists for one another of the things that we are (at the moment) thankful for. Some days it’s harder than others; some days, I stall out at coffee (always the first thing on the list) or I wallow in minutiae. Bluejays are cool. Um, ears? Pillowcases. Did I say eyeglasses already?

Every year, I used to repost an essay about thankfulness that I had written during my darkest time (ah, the LiveJournal years). Perhaps, if I can find it again, I’ll do so again, but my understanding of happiness and thankfulness has changed over the years, and now I think they are inseparable.

It’s obvious to say that gratitude is about seeing and honoring the good things. Big things like love, family and friends, security, achievements, yay, hurrah. If we have those things, that’s great. I’m fortunate: my life is rich in big things like this even if I don’t have everything I want. (But then, who does? And why should I?) But little things are at least as worthy of attention, even just socks without holes or being able to ignore the headache long enough to notice a dog on the street. Even when I feel overwhelmed or trapped, there are thousands of things every day I find I am grateful for — provided I reset my aperture to be able to see them at all, provided I’m willing to treat these little things as worthy of that sort of respect. Finding a quarter, the way my favorite armchair wraps itself around me, the fresh smell of kitchen salt, the way a hairbrush feels on my scalp, every time I notice the 60Hz buzz that means I have power, the traffic light turning green as I approach, and yes, the taste of coffee — these are important individually, but also, there are just so damn many of them. Those years of challenging myself to come up with something, anything, to put in that daily list has had this benefit, of showing me just how many of them there are.

Anyway, this will be a hard holiday for many people I know and care about, and many more I don’t know. But even in the midst of great grief or anxiety, there may be little things that might give you a moment of pleasure or comfort–comfy gloves, effective moisturizer, dry laundry, a smile from a stranger, whatever– each doing its tiny incremental bit to help. Even in the darkest times, they’re there, mounding up around your ankles minute by minute, tiny tiny good things. I hope you all have things you’re grateful for this weekend that you’ve never noticed before, little thankfulness surprises. <3

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