With a Grateful Heart

My favorite holiday has come and gone for this year. Thanksgiving always seems to move by too fast. I look forward to it each year, anticipating the green bean casserole and a parade of pies, followed by good-natured ribbing and lively board games around the dining room table. I get excited when I climb the steps at the beginning of the day, to be greeted by the aroma of a turkey roasting in the oven, and the heat of the house forming condensation on the windows.

I didn’t get my window condensation this year, as the main event was staged at my sister’s house, but boy oh boy did I get pie! We had four different kinds! Apple! Pumpkin! Pecan! Cherry! (That last one is my favorite type)

Originally, I had planned to write a special Thanksgiving post on the actual day. That never happened. I blame the pie and an incredibly unfair game of Trivial Pursuit. I still think that deck was rigged. By the end of the day, I was so full of turkey and pie and good feeling (and sleepiness) that I decided putting hands to computer keyboard would only result in a lot of “kdj;flka dkdjdiidk dkf” as I typed in my sleep. Plus, in all the excitement, I left my computer at the house when I traveled, which is just as well, as I spent a good deal of my free time this extended weekend sleeping and visiting with loved ones (and running around a bunch of stores looking for advent candles, but that’s another story altogether).

We were asked to contribute a piece on Thanksgiving for the blog at work, centered on food traditions. My contribution is available over on our website, if you’re interested. I didn’t want to rehash the same thing here, but I thought it was important to take a moment and reflect on what this season really means. At least, what it means to me.

I’m always annoyed at the push of Black Friday around this time of year. It seems to me that it has, for many people, eclipsed the original holiday. I’ve heard more people talking about their Black Friday game plan than their plans for Thanksgiving and actually celebrating with their family. I understand that the stores all look at this time of year as an opportunity to make sure they get out of the red before the end of the year (hence the term Black Friday), but that’s not, ultimately, what this holiday is about. It’s just what the stores have made it about.

did notice a lot of people participating in the “30 days of Thanksgiving” on Facebook this year, and that is closer to what we should all hear about, instead of JC Penney’s incessant commercial, with people singing “Leave the dishes in the sink, go right now and buy buy buy buy, shop shop shop shop.” (In case you’re wondering, that commercial was the one that consistently made me feel like throwing something at the television) This is a time to reflect on the year, to consider all the things in your life that you are thankful for. I know the holiday season gets a lot of people down, and I’m sure I’m going to hear “life sucks” from at least one person in the foreseeable future. But I am of the mind that there is always something to be thankful for, be it small or big. If you don’t stop to recognize them on a regular basis, they can easily get overlooked or surpassed by the worries and concerns of the day.

Remember to say thank you. Whether you say it to the universe, the deity you believe in, a stranger on the street, a friend, your IMG_20131115_113334_669parents, a colleague, the barista who made your drink, or to yourself in the mirror…say it. Say it often. And, when you say it, mean it. It isn’t enough to just say it. If you don’t say it with feeling and honesty, you’re missing the point.

With that being said, I would like to present just a sampling of the things I’ve been thankful for this year:

  • having health insurance for the first time in years – especially when it came just in time to help out
  • a wonderful job that makes me feel like I make a difference
  • the ability to go outside during the day and pet a sheep, just because I feel like it
  • the generosity of farm staff, who make sure I get fresh produce to take home to my family
  • a working car
  • a roof that doesn’t leak, and walls that hold back the wind
  • the decision to meet a complete stranger at the gardens, a little over two years ago
  • friends who come over to help build raised garden beds
  • having the chance to come home to the world’s sweetest cat, even if it was just for two years
  • a caring oncology department – particularly the doctors – who worked so hard to help Onyx, and who cried with us when the treatments didn’t work
  • the opportunity to have one last New Year’s holiday with my uncle
  • an awesome travel story to tell about my trip to Maine for Robin’s wedding
  • understanding church members who let me take some much-needed personal time away from planning/attending services this summer
  • the all-too-rare moments of clarity and memory from a long-time friend battling Alzheimer’s
  • a bannister on the basement stairs
  • dinner out with friends in difficult times, and the compassionate understanding when I’m not chatty and a bit distracted
  • home-made, hand-delivered birthday pie
  • surprise flower delivery
  • the rare Saturdays when I get to sleep in to 11am
  • the bag of cookies and Lego figure that co-workers put on my desk after a particularly rough day
  • an opportunity to use my history and folklore degrees
  • a year without having to take my parents to the hospital

And you, my friends. I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for having a place to write my thoughts and interact with people I’ve met at conventions and fairs and other places in the world. I’m thankful for inspiration from all of you, for encouragement when I need it, and for good conversation.

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