Even more to be thankful for

Seen running around the Yard a few weeks ago. I should have captured it for today's feast!
Seen running around the Yard a few weeks ago. I should have captured it for today’s feast!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or, more likely, happy Black Friday/weekend/Cyber Monday/whenever you get around to reading this, because most people are hopefully either at the dinner table or too busy hanging out with family/friends, enjoying a post-prandial walk/nap/more pie, or other things not involving the Internet.

Inner courtyard of the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, which has a really interesting, eclectic collection.
Inner courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which has a really interesting, eclectic collection.

Despite its troubling colonial roots, I love Thanksgiving. (And yes, I realize this is a perfect example of white privilege.) Gratitude is, if not underrated, definitely under-practiced, so I think it’s great that we have a holiday that is supposedly all about it. Apparently, it’s even good for your health. For me, Thanksgiving is also associated with the start of the U.S. cross-country ski season with the Supertour races and Rendezvous in West Yellowstone, Montana. My parents and many of my friends are there today, enjoying the snow and freshly-groomed tracks. While I’m a bit sad I can’t be there, I’m grateful for the memories.

A wonderful guide shows off one of of the many roasters in the Taza Chocolate Factory.
A wonderful guide shows off one of of the many roasters in the Taza Chocolate Factory.

I’m grateful that my Mom came and visited me a few weekends ago! We had a fun-filled Saturday together, with a trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, delicious fish tacos for lunch, a tour of the Taza Chocolate Factory in Somerville in the afternoon, and an amusing evening watching the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club present Noises Off.

There was too much salad to toss in a bowl, so Jacqueline had the inspired idea of using a trash bag... :)
There was too much salad to toss in a bowl, so Jacqueline had the inspired idea of using a trash bag… 🙂

I’m also grateful for my awesome friends, from undergrad, from my time in both Cambridges, and from home in SLC. I got to spend most of Thanksgiving day at my friend Quinn’s house with his housemate Jacqueline and (surprise!) his mom Judy, who was passing through Boston on the way to India! She’ll be volunteering there with Habitat for Humanity. It was really nice to cook food in a (well-equipped) kitchen, play some games, and chill out for a few hours off-campus.

The spread chez Quinn: lemon-garlic roasted chicken, traditionally-dressed (with anchovies and everything!) Caesar salad, leek and mushroom soup, bread, a ridiculous amount of cranberry sauce, and (not pictured) pumpkin pie, homemade whipped cream, and ice cream for dessert.
The spread chez Quinn: lemon-garlic roasted chicken, traditionally-dressed (with anchovies and everything!) Caesar salad, leek and mushroom soup, bread, a ridiculous amount of cranberry sauce, and (not pictured) pumpkin pie, homemade whipped cream, and ice cream for dessert.
Cheers for a small but wonderful gathering!
Cheers for a small but wonderful gathering!

After the other three left to take Judy to the airport for a couple of extremely long plane flights, I biked back to my dorm and took advantage of the warm weather to walk down to the Charles River and reflect on how privileged I am. Largely due to my upbringing by loving, well-educated, comparatively well-off parents, I have had the opportunity to study at three of the best universities in the world. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of arts and sciences and been able to pursue them as I liked. I’ve traveled far more than most people my age. This doesn’t even include the privilege I have of living in a country that isn’t under general/active threat from other countries, has a pretty stable economy, and (at least nominally) provides quite a few civil liberties for its citizens.

Looking  east on the Charles.
Looking east on the Charles.

I don’t want to get too preachy here, but amidst all the recent violence in the world, the grim prospects of climate change, and the mounting protests against the institutional discrimination faced by far too many people in this country, I acknowledge my privilege and am grateful for how lucky I am. My next goal is to work harder to pay it forward.

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Update, 2 December 2015: I stumbled across this interesting blog post about gratitude vs. fortunate…ness… that I thought was complementary to many of my thoughts.

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