Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Finding Thankful

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on November 22, 2015

21 days ago a vast majority of my Facebook friends started their annual “30 days of thankfulness” where they are supposed to post daily about something they are thankful for. That first week of November everyone was thankful for their houses, their families, their cars, their friends.  Now, if I see more than one thankful post a day it’s rare. I’m not judging, don’t think that for a second. I don’t even participate in the thing, so I can’t really judge someone for not posting their thanks on a daily basis. I’m just saying: Isn’t that just like us?

Oh, it’s easy to be thankful when it’s the easy, big stuff. I am very thankful for my house; it’s warm, it’s painted throughout with the colors of my choosing, it’s where my TempurPedic bed lives (and I am very thankful for that bed), and it’s home to some of my favorite people. I’m thankful for my husband and the fact he works so hard so that we can homeschool. I am thankful for my vehicle. I’m thankful for my three amazing kids, our dogs, my washer and dryer, and the pantry full of food.

But sometimes it’s harder be thankful.  Sure, I’m thankful for my house, but sometimes get discouraged when it seems like appliance after appliance needs replacing. And when the electric bill is topping out over $300 in the summer, it’s harder to be thankful for that. My washing machine makes my life a lot easier, but when it starts that grinding sound when it agitates, I find myself not as grateful. Sure, I’m thankful for my husband and his sacrifices for us, but it’s more difficult to be thankful for him on the days after he’s eaten beans for two meals the day before or when his snoring keeps me awake. Sure, I’m thankful for my Durango, but when I think about it guzzling gas to the tune of 14 mpg, it gets harder to be grateful. We are a nation of “I’m thankful when it’s perfect” and we need to do better.

The last few days of October I attended three funerals. I should have attended four, but frankly, I didn’t have it in me after the first three. Lemme tell ya, folks, three funerals in a matter of days will slap a whole lot of thankful on a person in a hurry. I attended the funeral of a friend’s brother and sat there thinking, “I need to call Heather and tell her I love her.” At the funeral of a distant cousin I made mental note to call or text my merry band of first cousins and reminisce about our “cousinly bonding” excursions of yore and dinners at Nana’s. And sitting in the chapel of the funeral home, while our friends mourned the loss of their sweet daughter….well, suddenly I was incredibly thankful for my kids’ near-constant brother-sister bickering and their apparent inability to pick up dirty socks.

My life isn’t perfect, but it is indeed blessed beyond measure. I am not one for resolutions and proclamations, but I am making a very concerted effort to find my thankful in every situation. When I’m in a long line at Walmart I don’t grumble, I smile. Because I’m not homeless and hungry, I’m not mourning a family member lost in a senseless act of terrorism, I’m not frightened of being beaten or oppressed, I’m not ill or fighting a fatal disease. No, I’m merely inconvenienced as I stand there with my debit card in hand, my cart overflowing with toilet paper, fresh fruits, and vegetables, the snacks my kids asked for – and enough money in my account to cover it all.

If I can encourage you to do one thing, it’s this: find your thankful this holiday season. It’s easier than you would think and it literally changes the way you look at everything. 

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