Thanksgiving? Well, it's done and over. It's not what it used to be, crowded out of the holiday lexicon by that bitch Christmas. Black friday, midnight shopping, standing in line at Best Buy or Wal Mart rather than being home with kids, family, grandma, etc.
Hyper extended families have made for scheduling nightmares; I know so many families that celebrate days even a week after the actual holiday in order to have absolutely everyone there. Once upon a time we had 4 meals to eat, ending with a traditional meal with friends, booze and wine that started somewhere around 8 pm and concluded when everyone passed out or stumbled home. That was the best way I could ever think of to wind up Thanksgiving.
When we left Nashville and moved to Pa. we tried to come home for holidays, but the trips were just too long and we eventually began making our new traditions. Turkey breast for two, dinner with friends, and eventually just mentally giving up on the big, giant Thanksgiving idea all together in favor of a much more introspective take on the holiday.
Lots of people have spent time this November posting things for which they are thankful in honor of Thanksgiving. While I totally appreciate this attempt to maintain the spirit of the holiday, I have not been participating. That's because, well, I think every day about what I'm grateful for and write it down even.
I've kept a gratitude journal for about 8 years now. It's nothing fancy. It's not even all in the same place. But (almost) every day, I make a conscious effort to think of 5 things I'm grateful for and put them down in black and white. It's much easier said than done.
After a while, you feel like you're out of things to say. Husband, wife, kids, church, house, car, job. These are things that are easy to be grateful for. They are what you think of first. However, when you do this on a sustained basis, daily or at least several days a week, you really have to look deeper than that. It is difficult.
Mine has really evolved over the years - becoming almost a diary of feelings. The things I am thankful for have evolved from things and people to experiences and emotions. Curiosity. The ability to communicate well(most of the time); being able to pay bills (even when just barely). Sometimes I'm thankful for things I've not yet been able to achieve. Patience. Calm. Acceptance of faults. Other times I'm thankful for opportunities I'm given. To talk to high school kids about how many options they have out there. To meet leaders in the community who spend their lives working to make a difference for others. To write a story about someone who wouldn't otherwise be recognized for doing something amazing.
I would encourage everyone to try this year round, not just in November. It helps you recognize what the feeling of gratitude is within yourself. It helps you focus on finding more of that feeling, and focus on the positive things in life rather than negative all the time. The giving of thanks can be done anytime, anywhere. We don't need permission, laws, holidays or even a notebook or computer to acknowledge the amazing things that we have in our lives.
That being said, Thanksgiving, well, it used to be a holiday with big family dinners. Extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins. Lots of yelling, screaming, laughing, joking. I do miss that, I miss seeing my cousins and aunt and uncles. But now my cousins have kids and grandkids and big family dinners of their own to enjoy. Which is great for them. I personally am thankful I don't have kids and grandkids. I love my little family of friends, that's all I need.
But Thanksgiving, I'm sorry. I didn't even eat turkey or pumpkin pie this year. I've failed you. Maybe I'll drag it out to include Sunday and we'll just pretend you didn't get trampled by Christmas again.
Today I am thankful for:
New friends I've met recently while doing community theater. They have given me a new energy and helped me realize how talent (and friendship) is found in the most unexpected places.
My job. I've been struggling a bit lately, mentally, but after being (unwillingly) unemployed for almost 3 years, I've now been at my job for just about a year. While it isn't perfect, I don't complain. Where we are financially now compared to a year ago, well, it's amazing and I am beyond grateful to be employed at all, much less in a job where I write and take pictures for a living.
My creative spirit. Sometimes it is a bit hard to control or reign in. Usually it is impossible to understand. Always it is annoying to someone else. But it's me. And I'm grateful to have finally found it after 30-some years of pushing it away.
A child-free (by choice) lifestyle. Kids just are not for me and I know in my heart we made the right choices when deliberately deciding not to procreate.
and while we're at it-A country that allows me to have that freedom. To choose a method to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Because I'm a grown woman and I should be able to make that decision for myself.
Yes, overall, I have a lot of gratitude for a lot of things. This is just one day. But everyday I say one thing to myself as I am falling asleep at night. "I LOVE MY LIFE" And it's true, I do. It's not perfect, it's downright messy. I have issues- medical, mental, emotional-who doesn't.
But I also have the opportunity to change, improve and challenge all of it. And that my friends is what life is all about. Not things staying the same, but rather things changing. Because when you struggle to find things to be thankful for, I promise you, with change comes opportunity for gratitude.
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