I am thankful every day, but today, I am extra grateful. I am beyond thankful that nécessité has brought us together. The first Thanksgiving holiday I spent away from loved ones (my mom, sisters, extended family, and friends) was in the early ’90s. At the time, I was living in Paris, sleeping on the floor at night, using my clothes I wore that day as my nightly pillow. I remember Thanksgiving Day that year as if it was yesterday.
I had no way of knowing that this uneventful and unremarkable holiday would end up changing the way I would experience all Thanksgiving Days to come. Being alone and unattached for the first time in my life allowed me to realize that I did not need to be amongst the traditions I had practiced every previous Thanksgiving Day to give thanks. And I didn’t need to reserve one day a year to commune with family members, friends, and food, to give thanks.
After all, I could give thanks daily, or rather, many times throughout each day. There I was, in a country that did not celebrate the holiday traditions I knew so well. But I still could, regardless of where I was, or who was (or wasn’t) sitting next to me. I learned how to give thanks without having to engage in the formal traditions I had come to know so well. I learned how to be present. I learned how to feel grateful for where I am at any given moment. I learned how to feel grateful for the privilege of living in the city of my choosing.
I learned how to feel grateful for merely having a floor to sleep on, inside of an apartment that kept me safe and warm each night. I learned how to give thanks for whatever circumstances I was experiencing at the time. So, I gave thanks for my faith and for anything and everything in my life. This overwhelming sense of gratitude continues to inspire me to this day- to focus on others, rather than myself, each year on Thanksgiving Day.
While attending college after my time in Paris, I would spend Thanksgivings driving around the city, offering homemade bagged meals to less fortunate individuals. In the ’90s, when my husband and I first started dating, we would spend our Thanksgiving holiday helping support the ‘Josea Williams Annual Thanksgiving Feast,” which provides warm, home-cooked Thanksgiving meals to the hungry and homeless.
I continue to spend Thanksgiving Day handing out warm, homemade meals to those who need them most. I now share this tradition with my children each year, in hopes of instilling within them a valuable lesson I once learned while eating cream of wheat, alone, in Paris, so many Thanksgivings ago. It’s a lesson that has proven to be a profound part of the mother I chose to be.
Admittedly, I now find myself struggling to sit down in front of a Thanksgiving table overflowing with delicious, nutritious food. Because I prepare and partake in delicious, nutritious family meals regularly, and for this, I am blessed beyond measure. Regardless of what sits atop your Thanksgiving table, whether it be a lavish home-cooked meal or a humble room-temp bowl of breakfast porridge, give thanks this Thanksgiving Day.
As for me, I am feeling profoundly grateful this Thanksgiving- for all that I have and for all that is in front of me, for those sitting at my side and for those residing within my heart. And last but certainly not least, for you- as I do every single day. So, thank you, thank you, thank you, for being you, for trusting me, for growing and learning with me and with nécessité. Thank you for your sincere interest and your unwavering support. However you spend this Thanksgiving Day, find a way to feel thankful, and please know just how truly thankful I am for you.
Founder of nécessité