They say the secret to having it all – is knowing you already do. But it’s the knowing that sometimes escapes us. That’s why thought Thanksgiving is a pretty good time to put on my grateful glasses. Well, naturally a quick things on the thankful list easily come to mind like caramel, my dishwasher, Amazon, pajamajeans (don’t laugh until you tried them) and Trader Joe’s. But those are just the fluffy things. It’s the times I feel my grandkids’ hugs or have a sleepover with my beautiful, bride-to-be granddaughter. It’s when I hear a friend’s sweet support or even watch the daily parade of backyard wildlife. Those are the things that get me big time.
They say that even when you have 99 problems, you probably still have 99,000 blessings. We can always be thankful, even if it’s merely for all the troubles we DON’T have. On the worst of day, I can still fill a a ream of paper with things I’m grateful for. Hey, anyone who gets constant hugs from tiny boys saying ‘I yuv you, gramma” has reasons to be thankful.
The stuff of gratitude can be pretty great. Sometimes, though, when life is really hard or really hurts, gratitude seems like a foreign word.
I’m thankful for my struggles for without them I wouldn’t have found my strengths.
My Thanksgivings have changed over the years. I no longer make the turkey; I bring the sides. My table no longer hosts a throng of kidlets; I head to their 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 it was really tough to find 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.
Yet, here I am, two years after my man is gone, alone but yes, abundant in blessings I can taste and feel. Some blessings may seem pretty predictable but after my checkered life, especially in these past two years, I’m not crazy about surprises. So I’ll just say I’m thankful:
- For my amazing three children — and the 6 gorgeous grandchildren they bestowed on me.
- For my abundance of compassionate, funny, caring friends and the family peeps who hold me up and support me
- For the sweet, fierce love of my husband who is no longer here but 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 unruly hair to obsess over – endlessly
- For cheese, the food of the gods, that only comes second to pizza. (well, that has cheese, too)
- For the opportunity to expand my wings when the advertising agency I worked for folded, and I founded my own and in doing found more of me
- For waking up each day with 24 new hours to grow, to do and to be, hopefully, better, kinder than the day before
- For just being alive. Funny how a near miss accident than make that abundantly clear
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 and what better day than Thanksgiving, though gratitude shouldn’t be stuck there. It’s easy to be grateful when things go your way; when tragedy arrives, not so much. But the day you find even one thing you are truly thankful for and dwell on that, is your first step toward healing. No, I’m not going to tell you grief has a silver lining. That would be nuttier than the pecan pie on your Thanksgiving table. But gratitude does have a way of stripping things to the basics and in those basics, good things hide as well.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward
This past few weeks have been challenging. An elderly father, suddenly didn’t recognize his world. My biz partner’s cherished, well-known client, for whom I’ve written and depended on for nearly 8 years, decided to disband the magazine. Still, we just have to open a newspaper, listen to the news, hear about a friend’s misfortunes that we are grateful for our moments of peace, of good health or happiness.
It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy. So this thanksgiving, be grateful.