The Curse of an Attitude of Gratitude

A hand places coins in a swear jar

November is usually a time of reflection. November hosts Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and — one of my favorites — Fibonacci Day on 11/23. There are also quite a few month-long celebrations: Aviation History Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Military Family Month, National Family Caregivers Month, National Gratitude Month, National Native American Heritage Month, and NoSHAVEmber/Movember, among many others. So much to reflect on, celebrate, and be thankful for.

The big celebration this month, as we all know, is Thanksgiving, or Turkey Day, as my daughters call it. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition* that includes feasting and sharing all for which we are grateful. The girls even sing a kids’ song about “What are you thankful for?” Most years I’m cheerful and host a full table with myriad gluten-free baked goods. I am able to thank people, family, and friends for their support or help. But this year, I’m just not feeling it. There’s too much weighing heavily on my mind. And that’s before I dive into the actual, potentially depressing, origins of this holiday.

Sometimes I just have to say f*** that!

Please hold off judgment for just a moment. I know I am not alone in letting slip one of those four-letter words when I stub my toe or clip my funny bone. “Ouch” just doesn’t cut it. Something with a little more sting is needed every now and then. Swearing Can Actually Be Good for Your Health ( Studies have shown cussing helps us tolerate physical pain, release tension, allow for creative expression, or signal that you’ve let your guard down with another person. If you have ever been around veterans, you know there is a special affinity for colorful language. “Embracing the suck” is just the start of it. And really that is just taking us back to our linguist origins. Shakespeare was chock full of rude language and crude jokes.

Sometimes you just need to let it out. And sometimes one of the seven words you aren’t allowed to say on television (thank you, George Carlin) is the only thing that can appropriately release all the stress. There’s even a guided meditation for these moments (content warning … foul language!): F*ck That: An Honest Meditation - YouTube.

Some of you may remember the XP analogy I made for the amount of energy we have each day. There’s stress tolerance and then there is BS tolerance. Some days I have no more patience. I can blame my chronic pain, but some days simply suck. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not cursing like my grandfather, the sailor, all day. He was a Navy Chief who went on to work backstage in theatre so some of that salty language stuck with him. We have little kids; we try our best not to curse in their midst but they are both little mimics. We are teaching them that some words are just for use at home. They can’t even use “heck” at school, so they are learning quickly.

Again, most of the time I’m the calm or chipper one. I try to be happy and kind as much as possible because I know as well as anyone that we all have too much cr@p going on in our lives. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Plus, I know that when someone holds a door for me or offers a random compliment it can be a bright moment in an otherwise miserable day. I often am thanked for patience and kindness when dealing with customer service personnel because I’ve been there. I’ve worked in retail and other public-facing roles before. I’ve been yelled at for things I had no control over or for upholding corporate policy. Pro Tip: Most employees are willing to help kind customers first.

I know I’ll get my good humor back soon. After all, there is baking to be done and that always brings a smile to my face. But for now, I am going to let myself enjoy a bit of naughty language, if only in my head.


*Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia according to Thanksgiving - Wikipedia.