Thanksgiving is that special time of year when we acknowledge all the things for which we are thankful.
Some of us say it out loud and intentionally, others just reflect quietly upon our blessings in our own hearts and minds. Sometimes we write them down. Sometimes we even make it into a craft project, like decorating a construction paper tree with colorful leaves upon which we have written the gifts of our lives.
But sometimes, it can be kind of a blah blah repetition of the same old thing: I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my dog.
And I am. But this year, my feelings of gratitude go a lot deeper than that.
So I spent some time trying to comprehend what this feeling is, what is really going on with me this year.
And as I thought about it, I came across three things that, put together, sum it up pretty well.
First, I got an email in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. Just junk, really, but it was from a business I’d had a good experience with, so I took the time to read it. The message included a little quote that resonated with me, so much so that I printed it out and added it to my notebook of favorite sayings. It said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” (Epicurus)
Boy, is that ever true.
I can honestly say that I have everything I ever wanted, except a pony. And the only reason I want a pony is to keep myself humble.
I have a comfortable, pretty little house. I have a truck that starts up every morning and takes me where I want to go. My dog and I eat every single day. I can go to the Rolling Pin any time I want and buy a chocolate long john. I have a job that allows me to do these things, and I have retirement on the horizon that feels to me like the Promised Land.
I didn’t always have these things. There were a lot of long, hard, dark days when I could not have even hoped for these things.
If I have one abiding prayer, it is that I might never, never take these things for granted.
There is no way I can ever adequately express my appreciation for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, so I do the best I can and try to be a blessing to others. I tip well, I give away things that I could otherwise sell, and I always say “yes” when someone asks me and my truck to help them move.
The next element of gratitude came from another quote I recently encountered. I’m not a big fan of Bob Dylan, but he did say something at one point that is worth remembering: “Even if you don’t have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don’t have that you don’t want.”
Boy, is that ever true.
I don’t have any chronic health issues. I don’t have any debt. I don’t have shoes that hurt my feet. I don’t have to work in the cold or the rain or the sweltering heat.
I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.
Which leads me to the third item that came to my attention, shared by my daughter. She and I laughed together as she showed me a meme featuring rules for the holiday season, the most significant of which — to us — was “Don’t go visit your family if it compromises your mental health.”
Can I get a big “amen”?
Doesn’t mean I don’t love them (I do). Doesn’t mean I’m going to be rude (I won’t).
But there are certain people who bring more darkness than light, more negativity than positivity, and who, quite frankly, I am happier and better off without.
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful — truly thankful — for everything I have, and for everything I don’t have, and for being confident enough to walk away from everything I don’t want … and for the wisdom to know the difference.