There are two American Holidays that I’m really quite envious of; Halloween and Thanksgiving. Halloween should be more or less self explanatory; as a generally deviant and freaky individual I find the idea of a holiday devoted entirely to scaring the wits out of everyone around you entirely charming. I’ve been celebrating Halloween for a couple of years now with the All Hallow’s Read meme and this year we hosted a scary movie marathon for our friends. The finnish equivalent is dull and dreary with the traditions being mostly along the lines of; stay at home and be quiet, hope the bad spirits don’t get you. But I’m digressing.
Thanksgiving is another North American tradition that I’m utterly fond of; a holiday to celebrate all the things you have to be thankful about seems so… enchanting. In Finland we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or any sort of harvest festival (although harvest in Finland happens at the very latest somwhere around September). If you ask me, there are far too few official holidays in the autumn. So, to celebrate Thanksgiving even though we really don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, here are three things I’m thankful for.
Not only did I manage to snag the most wonderful man in the world and somehow get him to marry me, I’m descended on both sides from some remarkable women who could put superheroes to shame. I have a grandmother who packed up her growing family – alone mind you – left her home to escape an approaching, hostile army not once but twice only to build a life far enough away that she remained a Finn even after the war. She worked three jobs, had 14 children and still managed to find the time to write poetry. My mother, newly divorced, unemployed, bankrupt and with mountains of debt to handle still somehow managed to negotiate us through puberty and into succesful adults by most standards. My aunt on my mother’s side took over the dairy farm my grandfather had owned when he died. She was 16 at the time. They made a documentary of her simply because she was the youngest farm owner in Finland pretty much ever. And this is not administrative work I’m talking about; she pretty much handled all the work on the farm alone. Sometimes she had help from neighbors and went to help them in turn but that was only occasional, like making hay and such that pretty much by necessity is a group thing. This means that growing up, I had a model of womanhood that defies all cultural norms ever. These women weren’t victims who wallowed in how bad things were. They found a way to laugh even when things were hard and somehow they kept pushing through the dark times until they saw sunlight. Which in turn means that I grew up to be more or less unafraid of things going wrong. I know that somehow everything will be all right, no matter what happens.
I may have said this before but I’ve wanted to write since I was a wee little girl. At some point I realised that I would have to find other gainful employment in order to, you know, eat. And along the way I forgot how much I liked writing. It became a pipe dream and I tried to forget about it. Years rolled by, I tried to become a maritime captain (that was a fun year), a fighter pilot, a storage worker, I did a little graveyard gardening for a while and so on. In the end I ended up trying computer science and it was good, so I became a programmer. Almost ten years later I got burnout from the rate I was working and spending pretty much every spare moment studying more and new stuff about programming. After a few weeks of nights spent vegging out in front of the TV after work I got bored. So completely bored that there was no getting over it. I couldn’t even knit because a few months before I had had a bad case of tendonitis and I was desperate for that not to happen again. So I started writing. It was some sort of fantasy thing with ice further than the eye could see. Doesn’t matter, it sucked. But doing that felt so good, so right that I did it again the following night. The story stalled out but I started another one. That one was about a woman killing her live in boyfriend and covering it up with the help of her sister (I did mention that I’m somewhat deviant didn’t I?). He came back to haunt her too, it was all creepy and stuff. In the middle of this one I started writing in English which just felt more natural. When that stalled out I wrote the most hackneyed short story EVER about a woman who went out with a werewolf-human-hybrid and ended up on the menu, running for her life in the woods somewhere in the American Midwest. After that I started Creative Writing classes at the learning annex and much of what I’ve written after that has been published on this blog. There is a point to this rambling digression and that is this; I’m happy. I haven’t been this happy since I can’t even remember when. Seriously. Even when things are going bad (like for example last week with NaNoWriMo) I’m smiling at strangers on the street. I’m noticing pretty days and taking pictures. It’s absolutely disgusting. 😀 I’m still working a day job because I haven’t received a penny from writing but this winter I’m getting published for the first time and the other stuff will eventually follow. I love writing. Even when it’s bad and in need of a serious spanking.
Not only does science mean that I’m alive today (I had a string of bad ear infections when I was very young, I believe I had my first operation when I was 3) but it also provides me and the people around me with no end of things that make lives easier, allowing for more time to spend with things and people that I enjoy. The scientific method protects us from witch hunts, disease and other nasty stuff. Science provides us with imagery of far away galaxies and the primordial soup from which stars are born as well as the very very small things that tend to be very pretty if you don’t know what the picture is of. If a scientist is wrong, she will be corrected by her peers. We’re living in a time when Einstein’s general theory of relativity may be proven wrong or incomplete by evidence that wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye when he came up with the theory. Science and the natural world have always been and will no doubt always remain a huge source of inspiration for me. In the words of Gary Larson; “People have asked me if I ever worry about running out of ideas for comics, but I think the array of nature’s creatures that sting, bite, spit, stab, suck, gore, or stomp is just about endless. I never worry.”