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Let’s Be Thankful

Today’s the day. Many of us have been rushing around gathering food, packing it away in every little inch of our over-worked refrigerators. Others of us have been filling suitcases and making travel arrangements, bravely venturing out on the road during the busiest travel-time of the year. We find ourselves frantic, exhausted, and downright ornery. And yet we are supposed to cough up something for which to be thankful to put on the paper Thanksgiving tree at the big meal. Your 7yo son or your sweet grandchild or your pilgrim-dressed niece will pass around leaves and instruct you to come up with things for which you are thankful. Inwardly you will groan, outwardly you’ll scribble out the basics – family, food, a day off. And this is fine. People will smile and nod and you’ll go on to eat your pumpkin pie.

But what if…what if you take a moment to contemplate the things in your life that might not be so obvious (even to you). What about some of those challenges or ugly sides of your life. Huh? I’ll give you some examples and let you decide if I’m nuts.

Heather’s Thankful List

  1. My thirteen-year-old mini-van: There are mysterious stains, petrified cheerios jammed in the corners, and a few dents on the exterior. But I’m thankful that I have a vehicle that still gets me around (and is paid off). I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about my 16yo scratching it while practicing driving. I don’t worry about people hitting it with their car doors in parking lots or a kid dropping a ketchup-loaded French fry. My golden retriever jumps around it in excitement as we drive to a park, leaving her golden fleece in every orifice. Yes, I’m also thankful for my shop-vac.
  2. My smallish bank account: We all want more money. We have also seen what happens when someone wins the lottery and their lives fall apart. I have enough money that I’m not worried about it constantly. But not enough that relatives ask me for “loans” or whisper about me being rich and greedy behind my back. I also have no qualms about turning down telemarketers who want to sell me magazines. I love to treasure hunt at thrift stores, and when I find a $10 bill in a jacket I haven’t worn since last season, it’s a thrill. Money can be a blessing and a curse, depending on what you do with it. It’s very tricky, and the fact that I don’t have much – well I don’t have to worry about it : )
  3. My medium-sized house: Yes, my house, with three spirited kids, three guinea pigs, two sugar gliders, one large dog, and one 6’4’’ Highlander hubby feels over-stuffed at times. But when my 10yo worries that I won’t hear her in the night, I remind her that I’m one door down the hall. On self-enforced cleaning days, I know that if the house was twice the size, it would take twice the time to get things picked up and wiped down. When I hear a bump in the night, my dog and my husband’s baseball bat can pinpoint pretty easily where in the house it is coming from (Watch out frying pan falling out of the dish drain! They’re coming for you!). My air conditioning/heating bill is lower, and I love my relatively small mortgage payment. My house is adequate and sturdy, but my home is snug and cozy, often filled with laughter, and packed with love.
  4. Always busy: Sometimes this is the hardest thing for which to be thankful. And we do need to take breaks to relax to protect our mental and physical health. But when you feel like you are sprinting to check things off your to-do list, take a minute to be thankful. Thankful that someone needs you. Thankful that you have a skill or the ability to help. Thankful that you have a job or have the money to grocery shop or that you are healthy enough to do the million things you feel you must do. Think about those people who have no family, no careers, no goals to work toward. At first it would be a vacation, but add weeks, months, years behind that, and you’d feel the emptiness. There is a middle ground, which I am constantly trying to find, but I am thankful that my life is full.
  5. Growing older: I turned 40 six years ago and hated it. Every time I’d see an elderly lady, I’d cringe, thinking “ugh! One day that will be me.” Then four months later I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and started 15-months of chemo to kill the sneaky disease spreading through me. It was the hardest, most painful and scariest time of my life. But what I learned…I would never trade. When I turned 41, I celebrated big time. Now when I see an elderly woman I smile, thinking “wow, she’s winning the race. I hope that will be me someday.” Paradigm shift to say the least. Folks – growing older is the goal. Don’t hate every wrinkle, gray hair and extra candle. Celebrate that you are alive and moving forward. Celebrate every year, every day that you get to breathe fresh air, see the gorgeous world, and hug the ones you love.

It really is a glass-half-full world if you are willing to consider a different perspective. No, our lives are definitely not perfect. Some days you may feel like you’re maneuvering through the flames of Hades (been there, got the t-shirt), but even then there are tiny flowers that peak up from the cracks in our world if we are willing to notice. They don’t fix the cracks, they don’t fill up the holes in our lives, but taking a moment to acknowledge them and maybe even be thankful for them – well, it helps us to take those crucial steps forward.

So this year, when you get your little paper leaf for the Thanksgiving tree or when someone asks you what you are thankful for, perhaps go a little outside the norm and see those little flowers growing out of the cracked sidewalk.

I would love to hear yours. What little flower in your life looks like a weed on the surface?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Heather

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