Two years ago the advice columnist Dear Sugar asked readers to send her a short statement about what they were thankful for. I was so thrilled when she chose mine (and 93 others 🙂 ) to publish as part of her Thanksgiving column. (original Dear Sugar column in The Rumpus here).
I really loved the Dear Sugar column — if you’ve never read it, take a look. Some of the best pieces are also collected in “Tiny Beautiful Things” which outed the author of Dear Sugar — who, until that publication, was anonymous. It was, of course, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. I wish she still wrote Dear Sugar, but I bet she’s been kinda busy, with the best-seller and movie-making and all. 🙂
Below is the piece I sent Dear Sugar.
For eight years I was the founding director of a school for young children. It was hard, big, beautiful work, and my days were full of hugs, bills, questions, and creative energy.
At the end of every school day, the children in each classroom gather in a circle, along with their teachers and any parents or grandparents who have arrived a bit early, and each person in turn “says a thankful.”
Thankful circle can, to visiting adults, seem an interminable exercise. Some children say the same. exact. thing. every. day. “I’m thankful for playing on the playground and having lunch.” Some children say whatever happens to come out of their mouths, and they seem just as surprised as the rest of us. “I’m thankful that my dog, his name is Buster, he’s brown, and sometimes, he tries to get on my bed, and once, he ate a whole stick of butter off the counter, and…” until a teacher gently suggests, “how ’bout just one more thing?”
Some children never say anything at all, just a barely audible “Pass.”
But whatever the child says, or doesn’t say, each, in turn, has a turn. An opportunity to be heard, with respect. A moment that is theirs, to shape, to decide about, to offer something to the world if they choose.
I am thankful for that moment. For the chance each of us has to offer that moment to others though our listening and our respect, and the chance to make what we choose of that moment when it’s our turn.