Shut Up! Be Thankful

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So I’m getting ready for work this morning and its 5:30am and I’m sleepy and mad because I had to get up at 5am and I’m trying to put on eyeshadow as well. I’ve got my Pandora Holiday Christmas staying playing and The Emotions are asking me “What do the lonely do at Christmastime?” That made me pause, and my mind went back to 1995.

I was 19 years old with a 6 month old baby, and I was working at the Waffle House. The WH never closes, so Christmas Day I had to go in at 10 o’clock that night and work until 8 o’clock the next morning. I was beyond mad. This was my first Christmas with my baby and all I wanted to do was spend the entire day with her and my family and fall asleep that night on the couch, stuffed with my Mom’s cooking, with her laying on my chest and the lights of the Christmas tree shining on us both. But nope, I had to go work.

So around 9:15 I got up and threw on that ugly WH uniform. I scooped my baby up and kissed her and sung to her and kissed her some more and cried a little bit. She was grinning the whole time. My Dad was sitting on the end of the couch. I kissed her one last time, gave her to her PawPaw and I headed to work. I was mad as hell.

I get to the WH and of course, it’s slow. Its Christmas night and its 10pm. Who’s gonna be at the Waffle House?! I rolled silverware, made coffee, wiped tables, and tried not to die of boredom. Around 11 this lady came in. She sat down and ordered coffee. I brought it over and noticed that she was crying. I asked her if she was okay and if she wanted to talk about it. She shook her head no. I waited a little bit and asked her again if she wanted to talk. She shook her head no again. So I left her alone. And for the next two hours, she sat there and drank coffee and cried. And not quietly either. A few times she sobbed loudly. Other times she put her head down and her shoulders just shook. She broke my heart. I quietly refilled her cup and left some extra napkins for her and I kept my distance. 

What would make someone sit in the WH at 11 o’clock on Christmas Night and cry so hard and so long? I couldn’t fathom it. But it put things in perspective for me. I had a family to go home to. My parents would be cooking breakfast and my baby would be in her crib waiting for me when I got home. I had friends who loved me too. I had job and a car. Life was okay. Yes, I had been thru some things, but nothing that a type of hurt that would have me crying into a cup of coffee at the Waffle House on Christmas night. I had to stop and shut up all the complaining and be thankful.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or lament over the trips we couldn’t take, or complain about our jobs we hate and our coworkers we hate even more. We don’t even pause to give thanks. We just gripe and moan. And then you encounter someone or something who gives you a reality check and makes you realize that your life really isn’t THAT bad. As cliqued as it sounds, you really do have to stop and smell roses. So, read the title of this piece in your Kendrick Lamar and let it become a mantra for your life. Shut up. Be thankful.

L. Thompson