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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
29

Give Thanks

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, I participated in the #givethanks challenge, the goal of which was to flood social media with a wave of gratitude. In many ways, it's harder to be grateful these days, especially now that we're into the holiday season and so many people's plans (mine included) to see family are having to be cancelled. I'm close with my family, and it's quite devastating for me to not be experiencing the traditions that have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. Plus, this all just sucks. All the staying home and lack of travel and events and activities, all the businesses that are closed (some even permanently), all the families affected by those who have lost their lives.

That said, there are always so many more things to be grateful for than to complain about, and I really enjoyed having a week to really think about those things. Everything from toilets and washers and dryers to family and friends to the body's ability to heal itself. Or how about the opportunity this year has given us to check in with our families more often, to spend more time with our pets, to become better cooks or bakers (or runners or gardeners). For me personally, I'm grateful for my job and the opportunity to have employment during this time, for the opportunity to have become educated, for a strong support circle including friends, family, and a kind and service-minded church community. 

And even though this one isn't as significant or important in the overall scheme of things, I thought a lot during the week about how grateful I am for books. I'm grateful that there are so many to choose from, and that there are writers who have such beautiful and inspiring ways of telling the stories of their lives. I tend to stick to non-fiction, and I love hearing stories--both beautiful and tragic--of real people who are experiencing aspects of real life, whether positive or negative. I'm grateful that I'm a good reader, in that I can read fast and (mostly) comprehend everything. I know reading is a struggle for some, and others never got the chance to learn to read at all. Which makes me even more grateful that it's something I can do and enjoy on a daily basis. 

I know the Thanksgiving season is now over, but if you're looking for a way to immediately feel better about yourself or your circumstances, take the #givethanks challenge yourself and post daily for a week about things you're grateful. Or simply make a list and refer to it often. It's a fact that people who list the things they are grateful are happier, and I think we can all use more happy, this year and always.

DEC
01

Gratitudey

I'm grateful for this pie, which I made, which almost never happens. And I'm grateful for all the delicious food I consumed this week, for my little house, my cat, my health, my job, my friends, the people who buy my books. In thinking about all of this, about how grateful I am for circumstances that, while not perfect, are certainly fortunate, my thoughts always gravitate toward my family.

You could say it's because holidays are usually full of them, family, or because most (dare I say almost all) of my Thanksgivings have happened in the company of some amount of them, either where I live, where they live, where none of us live. This Thanksgiving was unique, in that I was away from my family. From all of them. On my own and cooking just for two (everything turned out smashingly except the rolls, which I can't even talk about), I confess it felt strange to consider what a family-less Thanksgiving would be like, but I needn't have worried. Because the thing about a family like mine is that you feel connected to them in these times of love and gathering and gratitude even when you're apart. We texted, we FaceTimed, we talked on the phone. I knew what they were doing and laughed with their kids and awed over their freshly-assembled Christmas trees. I didn't feel like I was missing out. I felt like I was there. 

What I'm most grateful for then is that I have this kind of family in the first place. The kind that sees each other as often as we can, the kind that maintains traditions, the kind that keeps in touch, the kind that asks for last minute recipe advice, the kind that enjoys being together. What I probably don't ackowledge enough is how lucky I am that this is what I have, what I've always had. There are those in my life for whom this seemingly constant stream of togetherness, kindness, and familial love can trigger an almost sadness, an acute awareness of not having had anything like it. Ever. And how does one respond to that? What can a person do to make it better for those who did and do not have what I have? Short of sharing my family with the world, which I wish I could do, I'm going to double my gratitude efforts. I don't want to forget, even for one moment, how lucky I am, this season and always. I also don't want to make rolls from scratch again. Like, ever.

NOV
30

I Recall Central Park in Fall

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It's almost too late in the season to still be considered fall, but I found myself in New York City over the Thanksgiving weekend and boy howdy, it sure felt like it. Fall. 65 degrees and sunny. People out in droves biking and running, all wearing shorts and tanks. I hadn't been back to NYC since moving away over the summer, so I would have reveled in the New-Yorkyness regardless, but the weather was truly spectacular. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish in a short time, but somehow everything else fell off the list once I stepped into Central Park. Now, isn't that always the way? Some places never really leave you.

 

NOV
28

Giving

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Last year's Thanksgiving post (Grateful) remains my most trafficked to date. Like, by far. As in thousands and thousands more hits than anything else I have ever written. It baffles me a little, because the post was about heartbreak. And are people really that interested in my romantic misfortune? Probably not. But most everyone can probably relate...love and loss inevitably go hand in hand.

When I thought about Thanksgiving this year, about gratitude in general, my surroundings made it uncomfortably easy. See, New York City is a place where you feel grateful at almost every turn, because there are so many here who do not have as much as you do. More than that, they do not have even enough to keep themselves fed, warm, and safe. And while it can be uncomfortable to have a smelly a disheveled pregnant woman step onto your subway car and ask if anyone can help her get food or warmer clothes, or a man with no legs scoot himself and an empty coffee can from car to car, I promise you'll feel much more uncomfortable if you don't give them anything.

You can say what you will about choices and circumstances, about how much someone "deserves" to be given to. You can talk yourself out of giving with any manner of assumption about how these individuals may squander the money, but that's not really within our control. What is--and I do believe it's one of the highest and most important responsibilities we have as humans on this planet--is to serve and care for others. That said, if I were to give to every person who needed it, I'd be on the streets myself, but I do hope this next year we can all become more aware of our abundance and more inspired to use it to help those who are less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for my readers...even if they are so fascinated by me getting dumped. (There's more where that came from in my next book...)