Monday, November 21, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!*

I must confess. I hadn't planned on writing a Thanksgiving post. I don't know why, but I just hadn't planned on it. Then I got the nicest e-card from an old school friend of mine, and I got so emotional that I just had to write. The card was simple, but it really touched my heart. The message of the card, combined with the heartwarming music, actually put a lump in my throat.

The card got me to thinking about what's really going on in my life. I've been feeling pretty down for months, ever since I got fired from my job in August. Since then, nothing has been going right for me, or so it seems. Plus, this is my first Thanksgiving without my Dad, so I didn't feel like I had much to be thankful for. Then I got the card. My friend was wishing all of her family and friends blessings and joy for this Thanksgiving season, in spite of the fact that she just lost her father only a few weeks ago. And I was suddenly ashamed of myself.

Yes, this is my first Thanksgiving without my Dad, but Daddy died in February, so I've had nearly a year to deal with the grief and begin the long, hard process of going on with life. My friend is still in the painful, beginning stage of living without a loved one, yet she is full of gratitude for the blessings in her life--she sees blessings in her life--when she could so easily be bitter and depressed, like me. As I said, I felt ashamed, and started to take stock of just what I actually do have in my life, and I realized I've been overlooking quite a few blessings.

First, and most important, I'm alive. Unlike thousands, perhaps millions, of people, I lived to see another day. Without life, there's no hope, and I'm blessed--blessed--to have both. I don't always feel hopeful, but as long as I have breath I have the chance to make my life better. Until about an hour ago, I didn't appreciate that. Shallow, I know.

Second, I'm healthy. Yes , I'm overweight, but I can do something about that. I don't have some chronic disease or disability that restricts my every move. All my senses work. I can live on my own and take care of myself. I can drive and revel in the independence that gives me. Maybe I don't look like a supermodel, but I'd rather be fat and driving than thin and bedridden.

Third, my family. Actually, my family's been the source of some deep personal pain over the years, but I know that I couldn't live without them. They've hurt me, and I've hurt them, but they've also brought the most happiness into my life. My sister is my best friend and her son is the child I never had. My brother is the epitome of real manhood and his daughter first taught me the joys of being an auntie and recently made me a great-aunt. My maternal grandmother showed me genuine unconditional love, and my uncles were knights in shining armor, holding would-be players at bay. My mother took care of my physical needs excellently, and my father taught me the value of just being a nice person. So my family is pretty special, in spite of all the fighting--and we can fight!--and that's definitely something to be grateful for.

And lastly, my friends. I've never been a gregarious person. Outside of my family I've had only a handful of true friends, but they've been the best friends anyone could be blessed with. Some I've known for over twenty years, others for only five or six, but each has added a layer of love to my life that I wouldn't be the same without. They've given me someone to talk to when even my family couldn't be trusted. I've laughed with them, cried with them, and shown my truest self to them. My friends let me be me in a way that my family never has and probably never will. And for that, I'm truly thankful.

So I see that my life is not nearly as worthless as I thought it was. I repent of the pity party I've been throwing for myself, and resolve to try and live life to the fullest. That doesn't mean wallowing in license and excess, but making the most of the good things God has given me, and indeed, all of us. Jesus said He came to earth to give us abundant life, and He did. Life is a gift. Treasure it, live it well, and, above all, be grateful for it. Give thanks. I'm going to.

Happy Thanksgiving!


No comments: