Thanksgiving is about gratitude and consumption. We eat our fill and count our blessings and drain our savings at doorbuster sales. In my family, the day after Thanksgiving-commonly known as Black Friday- is Buy Nothing Day. We take the day to spend with family, or outdoors, and making the ultimate turkey sandwich. We step ourselves away from the increasingly unsettling culture of consumerism.
This year, I find myself thinking of gratitude, and of ‘stuff’. Some objects have stories, but they aren’t the ones you’ll find in stores this Friday. And there are things that are more than just ‘stuff’-that infuse my life with meaning because every time I see them, I feel grateful and glad. These are the little things that remind me of the big things.
Every woman in my family has one of these Club dutch ovens. I was about 18 when I got mine, during a visit to my grandmother who helped me pack it in my suitcase swaddled in sweaters. My mother’s is silver, my grandmother’s is yellow, my aunt’s is avocado green. Mine is turquoise and it cooks like a dream. The women in my family eat heartily, have strong opinions, and laugh often. They are really, really strong. And as hokey as it sounds, whenever I use this pan- which is almost daily- I am so, so grateful to come from the family that I do. I’m grateful that they taught me about ambition, humor, and sacrifice. And mostly, I’m glad that they are safe, and healthy, and that we take care of each other.
I found this book this summer in a little bookstore in Port Townsend, Washington. I liked everything about it- its torn cover, the graphics and hand-drawn lettering. I liked thinking about someone pressing binoculars to their eyes, watching ships pass in the Pacific. I’m unsure why it has come to mean so much to me so quickly. Perhaps, as a girl from the mountains, I love the idea of the ocean as my new frontier. Mostly, I think it reminds me of my work as a photographer- it is my duty to find tattered gems, little bits of visual information that I can identify as special.
Have you ever looked at Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs? It’s most commonly depicted as a pyramid, with morality and creativity at the top, friendship and self-esteem in the middle, and security and bodily needs at the bottom, largest portion. I’m grateful for those big, basic needs being met- for my health and clean water, and healthy food. I’m thankful that my family and friends have all those things- that today their bellies are full and that they are surrounded by the people they love.
P.S. I’m really, really grateful for YOU- for reading this blog or visiting my website. I’m grateful for those who have allowed me to take their photograph or hired me for projects. And on that note, I say: good bead, good meat, good gosh let’s eat!