Gratitude has not come easy to me today. You have no idea how much I would love to have woken up this morning completely and totally happy and grateful and smiling. But. I didn’t. I woke up to a quiet, empty house. Sort of sad. Sort of lonely. Peaceful. Totally peaceful. But sort of just… not feeling festive and holiday-ish. I made my coffee, puttered around the kitchen. Fed the dog. Watched a little Scandal and DID give thanks that I don’t have Olivia Pope’s problems. Damn. Those are some big, big problems. All the while trying not to feel what I still feel so often: Broken.
And so I cried. And cried. And cried some more. I let myself feel the ugly, crappy, familiarity of it all. I talked to a few people who really love me so much– and I hated to be the downer in the conversation– because that’s not a role I enjoy. Ever. But they each reminded me of this: I am totally loved. I am totally supported. There is so much right even though sometimes it feels like there is still so much wrong. And that we are all broken in some way or another.
The tide comes in. The tide goes out. And on holidays especially, it can feel like the tide always comes in. Good news though: It will go out again.
So if this is you at all today– if you, like me, are struggling with grief of any kind, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Allow yourself the chance to feel it and process it and find what’s true in it and what’s not. And then, use whatever self-care techniques work for you– and out of self-love, decide to bounce back. Because it IS a holiday, and despite not everything being exactly the way you’d like, there is still a lot of goodness. Tons. Tons and tons of goodness. So get up. Get dressed. Work out. Turn on happier music. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write down a rampage of everything you have to be grateful for. Pray. Meditate. Read something good. Watch Scandal. Call or text the people you love and tell them so. It helps and it works and I’m doing it.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader. I’m thankful for you.
For the past 10 years I have run the Thanksgiving Food Drive at my children’s elementary school. It’s a small but heartfelt operation that provides all the typical Thanksgiving dinner fare, including a turkey and hopefully a few extra pantry staples thrown in. It’s incredibly meaningful to me because it serves families who have fallen on tough times right in our own school–as in, boys and girls that might be sitting next to my daughter.
But yesterday was a first. The school nurse, who is in charge of identifying the families and distributing the boxes operates under the utmost of confidentiality and discretion so as to maintain privacy and dignity for the recipients. So in my ten years of running this event, I have never known or seen a single family receive a box. But yesterday, during the sorting and packing and boxing up, a woman introduced herself to me and followed up by saying,”Every year I receive a box. This year, I’m still receiving a box, but I decided to help.”
Wow. What could I say? I didn’t want to lose this sort of intense moment by talking too much or too soon or sounding too…whatever the word is. Like a superficial suburban mom who might be somewhat out of touch with the reality of my neighbor’s hardships? I still haven’t really found it. Because in my heart of hearts, my intentions are good. And I just wanted her to feel like we were friends, working side by side at school PTO event. Because really, isn’t that what we sort of were?
In all of the humility it took for her to reveal herself as a recipient, ironically, I felt humbled. Very humbled. I thanked her for coming. And she thanked me back. And it’s hard to feel simultaneously thankful and a negative emotion at the same time. Such as judgmental or critical or resentful or whatever other emotion either one of us could have chosen for our own private reasons.
We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving. And then we continued to work side by side. A little awkward. A sort of weighted silence. But still just two moms trying to show our kids and neighbors what Thanksgiving is all about. Choose to be thankful this week and watch how easily everything else falls away.