Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thinking Thankful

I am on a roll. There are ideas in my head and goals in my heart, and I'm on a bit of a cleaning/changing-it-up spree and feeling ambitious. Energized. Motivated.

Thankful.

This Thanksgiving is a bit of a hump because it's the first one as true empty nesters. While our girls spend the holiday together in Philadelphia (with The Fiance), we will head to a wonderful dinner at our church, visit a very close friend in the hospital, then finally stop and say hello to another friend and her family. It's a full day - no time to sit around and think (except for right now, because my partner in crime is still sleeping).

But if there was time, I would think about a lot of things.

Like the "I love you" texts I often get from both children. Whether they know how much their messages mean to me or not, Verizon does, since I saved so many of them that my phone went into a frenzy at one point.

Or the way a certain spouse made me laugh with his goofy way of apologizing the other day when he thought he ticked me off. He did, a little, but over the years and with much practice we have learned to disarm each other - often with humor - and come back to common ground.

What about appreciating our big, lunky Golden Retriever who can't see a darn thing but will search every square inch of the living room floor, banging his head against furniture and knocking over the trash can, until he finds a toy to bring to us when we get home.

And the cat. Oh yes, that cat. She is sleeping on my pillow at the moment... in fact, she is sleeping on three quarters of my pillow. But I don't mind because she is my connection to my kids at this point, and I happily give her the attention she will often demand. And I do mean demand.

I think about the fact that we have a home and food and friends and a church we love. Thankful that even though we are not with extended family today, as we have often been for this holiday, they are all safe in their own homes, hopefully feeling thankful in their own way.

My mother-in-law passed away at 93 in late September, ironically on my dad's birthday (he would have been 87), so we have had our tough moments also. A while back I had asked her to consider writing down some of her life adventures. She and my father-in-law had traveled across the country in a tiny Shasta trailer; she had done volunteer work for the Red Cross after he passed away and was assigned to some rough areas during that time; and she had done much charity work over the years, which I wanted my children and their cousins to know about. Her vast experiences were worth passing on to her grandchildren, I cajoled.

In her house we discovered that she had tried to honor my request. She had done so in not one but two different diaries, neither of which had many pages written on, sadly because by the time I had thought to request this of her, her health was failing and she was not able to write. She hid this fact for a while until she could no longer deny it, and within a year she was gone. But she did share some wonderful things that none of her children or grandchildren would have otherwise known about her life.

On the last page she was able to write, she talked about being thankful and blessed with four wonderful children who loved her, and that they were what kept her going every day. It was a sweet, perfect way to end what should not have been the end yet, but was.

I'm sure she didn't always feel thankful. I know I don't always feel thankful, and I'm guessing you don't either. But I'm finding these days that it's really very easy to find things to appreciate about life, not because I see people who are worse off, but because of the goodness around me.

For instance, I have a trunk full of coats that members of our church have donated for Coats for Kids, and another three bags sitting in the parish entryway to be picked up. People are good and kind and generous, and all we have to do is ask someone's help to find that out.

So on this Thanksgiving morning I want to end with a quote from Nick Vujicic, a man with no arms and no legs. Look him up - his story is worth your time.

"I have never met a bitter person who was thankful, or a thankful person who was bitter."

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Happy Thankfulness.


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