For some years now, I have kept a daily gratitude journal. It started with a notebook where I would write down the top 5 things that happened to me each day that I was grateful for. It has morphed over the years into a mental recap of the day before I go to sleep, and frequently during the day I think to myself – oh, that will make tonight’s list! But the exercise has served its purpose for some time now – I am aware of and often focused on what is going right instead of what is going wrong – well, mostly!
As I thought back this week to Thanksgiving Days of old, I was surprised to find I was remembering a lot of the negatives. Delays at airports that impacted arrival times. Snowy highway travel conditions causing white-knuckled stress and second guessing our decision to even make the trip. Shopping Black Friday sales in crowded malls when I really would have opted for seeing a good movie! I recalled the frequent accommodations we made when we were hosting, or other adjustments required because our host and hostess had a houseful of people that they were trying to keep happy. Overall, the sum of the memories was that the opportunity to bring family together was always accompanied by a challenge or two along the way.
There are great memories too – don’t get me wrong! Just being back together after a long first semester at college. Papa’s handmade rolls rising perfectly and browned to perfection. My sister-in-law’s ability to put out a feast of delectable options including her amazing homemade noodles. The noise, the laughter, the joy, and all the chaos that often felt like too much to cram into one long weekend. But we did it often so we could be with our extended families.
This week Thanksgiving Day will just be the two of us. We will not need to worry about travel delays and weather issues because we are staying home. While we will likely do something different for our dinner, there will be no fussing with a turkey or pulling together those special rolls. And – after the football, of course – there will almost certainly be a hunt for some movie to quietly close out the day. It will feel a lot like any other Thursday, but the gratitude will be clearly understood and felt especially by me!
You see, I have several friends and colleagues who have lost a loved one recently. I can only imagine how different they will feel this Thanksgiving Day. Because of that, I know my Thanksgiving will be special, as I am so deeply grateful my loved one is still with me. We celebrate Thanksgiving differently than before, but we both acknowledge with appreciation we are still here together!
Up for Discussion: How will your Thanksgiving be special this year? Are you in a season of life where you can see the good in each day, or are you too focused on all that seems to be going wrong? As things do go wrong, can the good help you get through the bad?