My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Honestly, there isn’t even a toss-up between any other holiday and Thanksgiving. Don’t really care for loud noises – see you, Fourth of July. Christmas is overdone – hasta, merry merry. Scary movies and all that crap – no Halloween lover. But Thanksgiving? I’ve had a small love affair with it since I learned how to cook. There’s something about Thanksgiving that leaves me pressure-free. I don’t have to decorate the house. No need to plan an elaborate costume. Just food and family. My kids know pretty much what we’ll have year after year, but they are welcome to suggest something new. Last Thanksgiving, Lucas, Shelby’s fiancé, made the turkey and had to contend with two rather attentive dogs at his feet. Thanksgiving is pretty much the bomb for me. Plus I normally enjoy the preparation that comes with a month focused on gratitude. Normally. This year? It’s just plain weird probably because it’s been that way for many, many months.

Maybe I need this month of gratitude to just let it all go. I read about others expressing their gratitude and see red. It’s irrational. Not even remotely healthy, but that’s where I am at. Things that used to destress me seem like a chore, but I know better. I know better. I need to find those places and let them just wash over me. I need running and knitting and writing and reading and photography and just being. And yet, all the other “must dos” get in the way. November? My focus for gratitude is to find those spots again and claim them for myself. Me. Just me.

I took my first photo in a long, long while when my parents were out, and it felt good to notice the small things around me. It felt good to pick up an actual camera and not settle for my phone. It just felt right. I’m not committing to a 365 just yet, but I am going with a photo-a-day in November. Where this goes is anyone’s guess, but I can’t let the bitterness and stress win out. There’s too much at stake for that. I’m planning on just letting it happen. Sometimes, that’s the only way to go. And surely I can’t be the only one to feel like that.

Please tell me I’m not.

November 1 - I'm grateful for so much yet have such a hard time expressing it. Pretty soon, my gratitude will devolve into something that sounds like Steve Martin's monologue towards the end of the The Jerk.

November 1 – I’m grateful for so much yet have such a hard time expressing it. Pretty soon, my gratitude will devolve into something that sounds like Steve Martin’s monologue towards the end of the The Jerk.

November 2 - Often times, my desk is my happy spot. The trinkets that populate it are carefully curated through the years. A puffin from Iceland. The Doctor from an NYC trip. A stapler I like.

November 2 – Often times, my desk is my happy spot. The trinkets that populate it are carefully curated through the years. A puffin from Iceland. The Doctor from an NYC trip. A stapler I like. Shaun the Sheep and the Penguin from the Wallace and Gromit series. A Koosh ball from ages ago. 

November 3 - I voted today, but first I got to marvel at the few leaves stubbornly clinging to life outside of work. This one wore its heart on its sleeve.

November 3 – I voted today, but first I got to marvel at the few leaves stubbornly clinging to life outside of work. This one wore its heart on its sleeve.

November 4 - Ever been grateful for jury selection? Me neither . . . until today. I was delighted to sleep in and have an extra cup of coffee.

November 4 – Ever been grateful for jury selection? Me neither . . . until today. I was delighted to sleep in and have an extra cup of coffee.

November 5 - The tree outside our house is a Norwegian Sugar Maple. Translation: it's still pretty full with these lovely leaves. The carpet they leave behind is worth seeing them in early December.

November 5 – The tree outside our house is a Norwegian Sugar Maple. Translation: it’s still pretty full with these lovely leaves. The carpet they leave behind is worth seeing them in early December.

November 6 - Starbucks' Red Cup signals the true change of season for me. And I actually enjoy seeing the simple red . . . if you are offended by the lack of "Christmas" cheer, you need to find something else to be all riled up over.

November 6 – Starbucks’ Red Cup signals the true change of season for me. And I actually enjoy seeing the simple red . . . if you are offended by the lack of “Christmas” cheer, you need to find something else to be all riled up over.

November 7 - We saw Spectre today and enjoyed some time together before he starts traveling again. I'm grateful for the opportunity he'll have on Monday when he gets to share his vast knowledge with a new company.

November 7 – We saw Spectre today and enjoyed some time together before he starts traveling again. I’m grateful for the opportunity he’ll have on Monday when he gets to share his vast knowledge with a new company.

November 8 - This goofball. She won't sit still for a photo. That shadow on the left? My camera strap. It's either live with the imperfection or not enjoy the view. She's too adorable for that.

November 8 – This goofball. She won’t sit still for a photo. That shadow on the left? My camera strap. It’s either live with the imperfection or not enjoy the view. She’s too adorable for that.

“Alive” by Sia – I’ve seen her twice in concert (back before she cared about covering her face), and her voice is as good live as it is on the radio. 

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