That day is coming. That day with the turkey, or yes, vegetarians: the tofu-rkey. That day with the cranberry sauce: either the kind that contains actual cranberries or the inexplicably superior product that flops fully formed and be-ringed from the can. That day when you argue with your brother for 30 minutes about whether or not putting garlic in the mashed potatoes is heresy. *
That day of Giving the Thanks.
Thanksgiving is an easy holiday to mock, especially after your fourth helping of stuffing. There is no greater sport than making fun of the Macy’s floats on what my siblings and I like to call it “Gorgemas.”
But, at its core, the feast is very beautiful – and not because of the prep, or the carving, or even the consumption. Instead, it reaches its peak at that moment when someone points a fully loaded fork at you and says, “Hey. Your turn. What are you thankful for?”
I like any day that encourages us to count our blessings – and perhaps more importantly, the people that helped us fully realize those blessings.
If you’re a freelancer, odds are that someone, somewhere along the way, helped you on your path to independence. Maybe you had a formal mentor: an advisor at school, a trusted colleague. Maybe a first client took a chance on you, as an unknown. Maybe a loved one or friend said to you, “Hey, listen – you can do this!”
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People regularly send out holiday cards, but they infrequently send formal thank-yous to their mentors. All too often, you find yourself thinking geez, I should have thanked them already – but it’s easy to put it off until tomorrow.
I am now giving you a seasonal excuse.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to take an extra step in your formalized expression of gratitude.
For Thanksgiving this year, take a moment to write a note to someone who acted as your mentor, or even gave you key support at a crucial time. People frequently don’t realize their profound effect in others’ lives; make sure that those folks who gave you guidance at a crucial juncture know it. Don’t put it on the eventually-to-do list, don’t delay. Make this task just as much a priority as getting gluten-free stuffing for Aunt Esther, or as Googling “Top Tips for Giblets.”
Your Thanksgiving card needn’t have a hand turkey painted on it, or a cornucopia; it can be completely non-thematic. Heck, if you’re really pressed for time, write a thoughtful email. But do it. Really do it. Just take a moment to simply, clearly thank a mentor. Detail how their help shaped you, and what their influence meant to you.
It’ll mean more to you and them than all the second helpings in the world.
*It is indeed heresy.
Kate Hamill is a freelance writer, playwright, and actor. She lives in New York City and consumes a truly frightening amount of Sriracha daily. Follow her on Twitter at @katerone.