When I was little I really believed that Thanksgiving was about the pilgrims and the Indians (that was back when you could call them Indians and schoolchildren didn’t learn about the smallpox blankets and the STDs the Europeans gave them) and that they sat down at a picnic table and ate corn and turkey.
I hate turkey. Always have. It’s a nothing bird; it tastes like nothing until you jam it full of stuffing and smother it in jellied cranberries and yams and potatoes. That’s exactly how I felt about Thanksgiving, too: it was a nothing holiday, a false celebration of an imaginary kinship when what we were really celebrating was the beginning of the end of hundreds of cultures.
Of course, my granola-sucking, tree-hugging, self-righteous take on the holiday changed when I realized that it may be a sham of a holiday and the ultimate spin on a series of horrific events, but there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with giving thanks.
I really don’t see the point of saying things like “I’m thankful for my health” or “I’m thankful for my family.” That sort of “giving thanks” makes me want to throw up, because, well, of course I’m thankful for my health and while I love my family, to be honest some days I want to choke them. Just a little bit. Plus, if I need to set aside one day a year to let them know I’m thankful for them, I’m doing a pretty crappy job the rest of the year.
The things I’m really thankful for, the things that I think about every year on this day, are all the bad decisions I’ve made. I’m not talking about the little bad decisions, like eating sushi at a bowling alley buffet or forgetting to pack a tent for a camping trip. I’m talking about the types of decisions that were so cosmic in nature that they spun my life in an entirely new direction each time I made one.
I am the queen of bad decisions. My life between the ages of 20 and, oh, 35 or so could read as “The Complete Idiot’s Guide of What Not To Do.” That is what I’m thankful for.
These bad decisions may actually be the best decisions I’ve made, because they served as the stepping stones to get me where I am.
I am thankful I got married too young and too stupid to know better because otherwise I would never have done it and I would never have known it wasn’t for me. I’m deliriously happy, too, that I married a man who cheated on me with, among others, my best friend. If he had been a better husband I would have not left a marriage I had no business being in in the first place.
I am thankful that I fell in love with the “wrong” man who showed me that there was more to life than a quietly desperate existence where you do what people expect of you, because even though he broke my heart I learned what it meant to love somebody. I am thrilled that I chose him over friends who abandoned me when I fell in love with that man, because it showed me who I could count on and who was just window dressing.
I cannot ever thank my old boss enough for making my work life so incredibly miserable. If she hadn’t pushed me to the breaking point I would probably still be there, writing press releases about household chemicals and wanting to hang myself with my pantyhose.
I am thankful that I quit that job in what I call a “fit of self respect” even though I had no backup plan or savings account, because it made me figure out how to survive as a freelance writer. If I’d thought it out and had a plan I would have gone right into another nine-to-five job and I’d never have found the courage to live the life I dreamed about.
It was, it turns out, a good decision to turn down the $50,000 a year job writing about car audio components and take a part-time job working as boat crew. The good job would have meant giving up almost everything I love about my life and the boats… well, I’m not making anywhere close to $50,000, but I’m not making it on a sailboat.
Moving in with an ex-boyfriend when things got rough in my own neighborhood? Hee. Even I don’t know what I was thinking. However, it did settle some issues permanently and allow me to move on.
More than anything, I’m thankful for where I am and who is in my life. And I’m thankful I had the courage to make those bad decisions, because they are the ones that led me to the life I love. I am thankful, as Douglas Adams said, that “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.