[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSBq8geuJk0] It was a dark August night in the Westbrook household. Nicole was left with a burden she could not explain. Standing on the front deck, she contemplated all the memories she had had with her family inside. The December Christmases, where she would be denied no gift that she truly wanted. The January New Years’s, when her parents would let her throw parties the whole grade would be invited to. The April Easters, when the living room would flow with candy as she walked down from her bedroom. Most importantly, the Fourth of July pool parties that were talked about months in advance.
She walked in with Mr. Perconti, the family lawyer, the first time since the incident. Summer of 2012 had been a rough one for poor Nicole. She had been off at summer camp while her parents and brothers stayed in beautiful Laguna Hills, subject to the worst drought California had known since 1869, the drought that effectively stopped the gold industry as prospectors dropped dead on a daily basis. While Nicole was gone, the air conditioning had gone out unexpectedly in the night and her whole family had passed. Now she was back for the first time.
“We read their will and they have left the entire estate to you.”
She stepped inside the dark home, eerily unchanged since she had last been here before she left for camp. She had almost been so used to staying at Aunt Cindy and Uncle Charlie’s that she had almost forgotten that this place she had once called home existed. But she knew she had to return to continue at her same school with her same friends; it was the only sense of normalcy and steadiness she had left.
“In accordance with the laws of the state of California, you will be watched by a keeper from social services, a man by the name of Patrice. Please don’t bring attention to the fact that he has a woman’s name. He does not appreciate it.”
Nicole only sat and listened silently; she had no words for Mr. Perconti. Her mind was elsewhere. The following months were very hard for Nicole. She tried to make the best of it but there was nothing that could get her out of the chronic depression she felt since her parents had died. She felt like her home was so empty with only her and Patrice around. One day in early November, she couldn’t take it anymore and broke down.
“Why, Patrice? Why did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve such a bad fate? I was a good daughter, I assure you. I always got good grades and did my chores and loved my family. So why is it that I have the hardest life in the world?”
“Nicole, you can’t keep focusing on the negative. I know you think your life is the worst but you are wrong. When I was growing up in Nigeria, I saw some of the worst pain and suffering that came from the military regime there. There were constant wars for power and people would be killed for resisting. I was one of the lucky ones. I got to go to school, get a great education, and move to America, a place where your dreams really can come true. I think sometimes you have to remember how much you have to be Thankful for. You have a school and friends and an education. And with Thanksgiving coming around the corner we have to be conscious of how good we have it here.”
From that moment on Nicole had a change of heart. She realized the error of her ways. She started hanging out with her friends more and letting them come over and hang out, making the house finally seem full again. She then decided to let Thanksgiving come early, so she could share her newfound joy of life with her friends. As they were planning, Patrice came to her with a suggestion.
“Hey, you know what would really help spread this joy to more than just your friends? Let’s write a song about it, film a music video, and let the world feel the glory of our early Thanksgiving.”
After a late night of intense emotional exploration and lyric writing, Nicole invited everyone over to film the video. The next day they were all watching it together, and she noticed there was a shot that she didn’t remember taking, one of her putting a picture of her friends up on her mirror, where she stood with a look of confidence at what the world had to offer her.
“Patrice, where did that shot come from?”
“Oh well I was in your closet with the camera trying to catch a moment to really wrap up the video, and this was the most honest and true candid shot I could have asked for.”
She watched that moment again and she then knew that she would never again be ungrateful for what she had.