They say the secret to having it all – is knowing you already do. But it’s the knowing that often escapes us. Thanksgiving is a pretty good time to put on our grateful glasses and think about what being thankful actually means.
There are things it’s easy to be thankful for, like Amazon, your dishwasher and okay, your cellphone. (Pajamajeans come to mind, too, but that’s just me. Hey, don’t laugh until you’ve tried them.) Seriously, there’s a boatload of deeper, richer things that over my heart like grandkids’ tight hugs, seeing my adult kidlets happy, laughs shared with friends, even the odd parade of wildlife through my back yard.
They say that even when you have 99 problems, you probably still have 99,000 blessings. Unfortunately, they often get lost in the shuffle of just the daily detritus. But even if we’re having a bad day (week or year) we can always be thankful for the troubles we DON’T have. The stuff of gratitude can be pretty great, but when life is really hard or really hurts, gratitude seems like a foreign word. We’ve all been there, too.
I’m thankful for my struggles for without them I wouldn’t have found my strengths.
Over the years my Thanksgivings have changed. I no longer make the turkey; I bring the sides. My table no longer hosts a Thanksgiving throng; I head to my kids’ homes. Not to worry. I have dibs on
Christmas and Easter and, to be honest, I much prefer tagliatelle to turkey anyway. Still, Thanksgiving is that time honored holiday when gratitude is the main course; that is if we do Turkey Day right.
Some Thanksgivings I found it tough to tap the gratitude, let alone feel it with enthusiasm. The month after my husband died was one turkey day I felt as carved out as the bird itself, and just as stripped of happiness. My mother lay dying another Thanksgiving holiday and the first year after I was divorced, abundance was not on the table for my children and I. And I’m far from the only one. Friends have lost spouses, children, jobs, homes. For some this is the ‘first’ holiday without their loved one and there is no app for the grief of that.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward
It’s hard, often nearly impossible, to find gratitude when your heart is in pieces. It seems only time and grace can perform that miracle. Four years after my man left this world, Thanksgiving is once again a time of thanks:
• For my amazing three children — and the 6 gorgeous grands they gifted me with.
• For my abundance of compassionate, funny, caring friends and family peeps who hold me up and support me always.
• For the sweet, fierce love of my husband who graced me with
the best years of my life
• For overall good health and darn decent energy (as they say “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in)
• For the ability to be creative, resourceful and resilient, especially when life called for all three
• For still having a head of freaky hair to endlessly obsess over
• For cheese, the food of the gods, that only comes second to pizza. (well, that has cheese, too)
• For waking up each day with 24 brand new hours, to grow, do and hopefully be better, and kinder than the day before
• For just being alive, a gift that was too soon taken from so many others.
Winnie the Pooh’s sidekick, Piglet had it right when he noticed “that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Thankfulness is a gift that we share with others. What better day than Thanksgiving to do just that, though gratitude shouldn’t be stuck there with the drumsticks and cranberry sauce until the next holiday.
It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.
It’s easy to be grateful when things go our way; when tragedy arrives, not so much. But the day we find even one thing we are truly thankful for, is the first baby step toward our healing. No, I’m not going to tell you grief has a silver lining. That would be nuttier than your holiday pecan pie but grief does have a way of stripping things to the basics, where good things hide as well.
As Aesop once said, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough”.