Being Thankful for the "Little Things"
As I spend my final Thanksgiving here in prison, I'm looking forward to enjoying some simple things that are not available here. I am thankful for all God has given me while I've been here, but the absence of basic essentials has made me realize I need to be thankful for even the little things we take for granted at home. So here is my list:
* being part of a church: COVID made this even more significant here as all services were shut down for over a year. Some things I look forward to are Biblical preaching, singing hymns, and Christian fellowship.
* freedom: I thought I appreciated freedom before being incarcerated, but when all your freedom is taken away and you have no control of any area of your life you come to truly appreciate the freedom we have in America. Thank you to all the veteran's including those incarcerated for fighting so I can live in freedom.
* a bath (maybe with bubbles): there are no bathtubs in prison. I am not a "bath" person, but after two and a half years a bath sounds amazing.
* hugs: physical contact is prohibited in prison. The only hugs I've had during this time were when my family visited me. Do the research and find out how no physical contact or even limited physical contact affects human beings.
* true friendship: it is very rare to have a good friend in prison. Most friendships last as long as you can do something for me. If you are seen too often with the same person others assume your are in a relationship. Here it would be assumed you are a lesbian couple.
* family: spending time with your spouse and children, hearing children laugh, family mealtime, hugging your children are all things you appreciate.
* family meals: sitting at a table surrounded by family enjoying a meal would be a dream come true. From the moment we pick up our tray of food we have 15 minutes to eat and get out of the dinning room. You quickly learn to inhale your food if you want to eat. I often joke that when I get out and am having dinner, I'll be done with my food before others even begin to eat!!
* napkins: we do not get napkins at all. Sometimes the folks in the dining room look like a bunch of animals, but you do what you have to do.
* knife, fork, spoon: we are only allowed to use a plastic spork. All meat is chopped up so you wouldn't need a knife. It will be nice to use a knife and fork again...will I know how to use them?
* a regular size bed: I've slept on the top bunk of a bunkbed that is only two feet wide. You don't really rest well as you're constantly concerned you might fall off the bed when you roll over. Seeing women fall off the top bunk onto the cement floor is terrifying. Even a twin bed sounds amazing.
* using a kitchen stove: I've only had access to a microwave, so cooking on a stove is something I long to do.
* grocery shopping: something that can be considered tedious sounds like fun after being here.
* a massage
* home-cooked meals
* real meat and fresh vegetables: A lot of our meals have what the women here call "filler" in them. No one knows exactly what it is, but it is used to replace meat. Most of the vegetables we eat are canned, so fresh vegetables are something we crave. We had broccoli this week for the first time since I've been here. I think we all thought we were in heaven!
* a closet: oh the things we take for granted in life. Yes, I look forward to hanging my clothes in a closet.
* helping others: this is basically forbidden here. Being able to help someone without fear of repercussions would be great.
* choosing clothes to wear: we all wear the same clothes. Be thankful for your variety.
* kitchen utensils: when we cook in our housing unit we use copy cards (like a credit card) as a knife and the handle of a flyswatter as a spoon to stir our food (hopefully the flyswatter has not been used to kill flies). We use the cardboard from food boxes as plates to cook on and the wrappers of snack crackers as wax paper. Plastic icecream lids are used to make pancakes and plastic dip containers are used to make cupcakes. The lid to my diced onions is used to grate cheese. You learn to use what you have, but it will be nice to use proper utensils soon.
* game night
* dinner and a movie
* fingernail polish: women get by with colored pencils and floor wax as long as they aren't caught.
* sitting on the porch watching a sunset
* being needed
* spending holidays with family
* going to bed early: you must be up for 10 pm count every night. Just the thought of being able to go to bed at 9:30 pm sounds amazing!
* having dinner at a restaurant
* real butter
* holding hands and cuddling with your spouse: back to physical contact...how long can you go without touching your spouse? This should make you want to go hug them as soon as possible. I can now sympathize with military spouses who are separated from their families for months on end.
* armchair and/or couch: all of our seats in prison are stools without backs. Oh the luxury of sitting in a comfortable chair!
As you spend Thanksgiving with family and friends remember to be thankful for the "little things" you might take for granted. I want to leave you with a song my family sang in church one year. Happy Thanksgiving!
A big thank you to Rose, Anton, Sandstrom, Jackson, Cole, and Pickle for sharing some of your "little things" with me.
I love you, ~Joy~
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ His Son
And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us