by McKenzie James
I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving various ways through the years. Countless early years spent with my dysfunctional family members trying to pretend it would be different each year. Many years on the East Coast with my best friend’s extended family and friends where I learned that those wonderful, loving, supportive families you see in the movies really do exist. One year, when my husband and I were living in London, British friends invited us to their home and gave us the use of their massive kitchen where we made a five course meal (using their Aga four oven cooker) for twenty Brits who’d never experienced this American holiday before. Most years of late my sister and I begin the day with a 5k walk. This year, however, I’m doing exactly what feels right for me at this particular moment in my life. I’m doing nothing at all.
I got up this morning (okay, my sister actually woke me up with a phone call trying to guilt me into that 5k– and don’t tell her but it almost worked!) and took my dog to the park for a long walk. I will do some writing because it’s simply what I do regardless of the day of the year. I will lounge around, possibly do some research on my latest diagnosis, watch the leaves fall in the yard, build a fire in the fireplace, and contemplate all that I have to be thankful for and how to get my life back on the right track.
This week has already been difficult for me. It began on Monday with the “for sale” sign going up in my yard. Next I received a confirmed diagnosis from my doctor which, although it explains a great deal, is going to be difficult to manage and medicate. The week then took a turn for the worse when an already difficult employee issue escalated to a point that it caused a rift in the team and had to be dealt with. By last night I was feeling pretty down, especially since I was supposed to be spending this long weekend vacating with someone I truly care about that sadly no longer cares about me (if he ever did — but that’s a topic for an entirely different article). With all this going on it is sometimes too easy to forget how good of a life I have.
This morning, however, I woke up renewed in some way and thinking about all I have to be grateful for. So many of the basics we take for granted: I have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, I’m warm and safe in my home every night, I have enough food (okay – I have TOO MUCH food), my life is relatively free from violence. These are things that many in the world struggle without every day and yet they are only the beginning of all I have to be thankful for.
I realize that although I have many things “wrong” in my life I am thankful that at least I have the ability to articulate what these problems are and the skill set to figure out the answers or seek help when necessary. Many people lack even this basic ability and must rely on the rest of humanity’s good will on a daily basis.
I’m grateful that whatever is wrong with me physically I can still walk 5k on my better days and that I still have a strong libido at my age. (Even if I have no one to share it with I’d still miss it terribly if it was gone!)
Mostly I am thankful that I have friends and family with so many differing perspectives that they keep me always questioning and clarifying my own beliefs. My loved ones are not only the ones I turn to share laughter and moments of intense joy but they are also the people who have supported and encouraged me through job changes, divorce, cross-country moves, medical issues and heartbreaks. They all bring their own unique form of comfort to my life and I’m grateful for each one of them.
Regardless what I decide to create out of my life going forward, and that topic will be on my mind a lot today, I’ve already been lucky enough to have access and exposure to many things that the majority of people never will. I’ve had personal, social, career and political experiences too numerous to count that have enriched my life and broadened my world view.
Life is always a choice. We have the option to focus on our problems or to celebrate our successes. We can make a list of those who have wronged us or think lovingly upon those who lift us up. We can count all the things that are unsatisfactory in our life or we can count the things we’re grateful for. Today I’m counting my blessings and I’m including my ability to write this, and all of you who read it, among them.