The sun sets a little faster now, the leaves have turned from green to yellow, falling to the ground, crunching under my feet as I rush the kids to and from their various activities. The sounds of them playing in our yard have switched from splashing water, and to raking those crunchy fallen leafs into piles and more piles so they can dive into them, over and over again. It’s the time of year when I watch the forecast closely, wondering when the snow will demand that my husband work longer hours, going days without seeing the kids.
For now, we have a moment. A brief moment before the snow settles in with the brutal cold, before the days become terribly short, before we begin to make our new years resolutions and wonder if we did enough this year. It’s a blissful moment where we can meditate, reflect and remember all of the wonderful things we have to be grateful for.
And, we are blessed, my little family. I know I don’t show gratitude nearly enough. I don’t always tell my husband how proud I am of him, for the hard work, and long hours he puts in every single time he goes to work. I know that I forget to say thank you to my kids for the things they do that make my heart burst with pride, because it feels like a neverending battle to get them to just listen. Sometimes, it’s just so much easier to get stuck in that rut of complaining about all the things that don’t seem to go quite right. We (I) get caught up in the frustrations of life, and I know I personally don’t take enough time to count my blessings.
I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving and the outpouring of gratitude that happens as a result of it. For me, it all feels contrived. It feels forced, too planned. Every year, no matter where we are, or what we’re doing, I try to reflect on what I’m truly grateful for, and I always feel like my list is boring or not enough. There is this pressure, it seems, to dump all the gratitude we feel for the things and people in our life, in one solitary day. Obviously, there’s so much wrong with this, and perhaps, this is why, as I meditate on my personal gratitudes, I feel both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by my list.
As we sat around our bountiful Thanksgiving table, I
forced asked my family to go around the table and say what they were grateful for. My husband started off saying he was grateful for all of us being patient with his hours, and his work. Girlie went next saying she was grateful that she had her brother to play with, who then responded in kind to his sister. When it came my turn, a long list ran through my mind, but this was all I managed,
“I’m grateful that I have you all in my life.”
Simple, yet without them, I’d have so much less. I wouldn’t have a fridge covered in artwork curated especially for me. I wouldn’t have someone sneaking into my bed at night to snuggle. I wouldn’t fall over laughing in my kitchen when my husband plays silly games with the kids, ones that make no sense to anyone but them. No one would rush to squeeze in between my husband and I when we steal a moment of love together. I wouldn’t have been able to pick up the phone while I was stuffing the turkey and share a laugh with my Mother In Law before passing the phone to eager, outstretched arms. I wouldn’t have bedtime stories to read, someone to discuss the plot points of The Walking Dead or someone to tease about his terrible music choices. Maybe without them I wouldn’t have my best friends. One who has known my kids since they were one, drinks fabulous red wine with me, and admits that parenting isn’t always what we thought it would be as our kids age. The other, a woman who I consider my soulmate, the kind that you search for your whole life. It was our kids that connected us, and it was our kids that fell in love with one another, solidifying our friendship further. Now, despite the long distance between us, we do our best through our ridiculous texts and occasional phone calls to keep in touch. Would I have them without my family? I don’t really know.
I am, even if I don’t remember to say it, grateful for this life. For all of it. For all the imperfections, the beauty, the expected and the unexpected. I’m grateful for every single person who has been in my life, for the ones who have taught me much then moved on, and the ones who continue to teach me, but stay. I’m grateful for all the things I can’t even begin to know that I’m grateful for yet, the things that will happen into my life, either by hard work, or by chance. I’m grateful for the past that I’m coming to terms with, because it’s allowed me to grow, and evolve into the woman I am right now. I’m grateful for love, and those around me that show me the diverse depth of it. I’m grateful for my words, the ones I use to communicate with people in my life, and the ones that splay across these pages.
No matter how many things I list, they all point back to the same thing: My family.
They have, in the small time we’ve been a family, have afforded me so much richness. For that, I am blessed. For that, I am eternally, and always grateful.