I hadn’t intended to write a blog about Thanksgiving, but here I am anyway. We all know what it’s about. You’re supposed to eat turkey and a lot of food, and be thankful for your blessings. Seems simple enough, right? Not always. Sometimes, in tough times, we have a hard time figuring out what to be thankful for, the people we share the holiday with can be annoying, or we wind up alone. There’s a lot about holidays that can go wrong. Family disagreements can surface over the holidays as we come together, or it may just be a tough year when gratitude is in short supply.
My own Thanksgiving got off to a somewhat rocky start last week. I went to the dentist, which is never my favorite pastime (although it wasn’t too bad), but it turned out to be the happiest event of my day, and my week. I had a rotten, lousy week. Within hours of my trip to the dentist, I discovered what appeared to be a betrayal by someone I have known for nearly 20 years. It was a severe jolt to what I think of the human race, and hurt my feelings mightily, and caused considerable chaos in my life. And I’m supposed to be thankful for that? Hmmm….
The week went steadily downhill from there, and I’m not enough of a Polyanna to tell you I was thrilled with the experience, but when I try really, really hard, I can see some blessings that have emerged. And on Saturday, to clear my head and get some air, I went to my beach house, and was greeted by a rug I have there with a quote from Anne Frank woven into it. It says ‘In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart’. I saw it the minute I walked into the house, and it made me think. Is that truly what I believe, in spite of the ugly things people do to each other? But in fact, I guess it is what I believe. Some people do some really rotten stuff, but that’s the point, ‘some’ people, not all people. And even in the midst of a bad experience, I have faith in my fellow man. There are a lot of good people out there who more than make up for the bad ones.
And as this Thanksgiving week begins, I am still wrestling with my sense of betrayal. Tomorrow I will be called on to be thankful. And I know how difficult holidays can be, either with family who can be difficult, or if one is alone. But in either case, there are things to be thankful for. Many things. The blessings or good times we’ve had, the good people we’ve known in our lives. The precious moments. The joys. Even if your life is not as you wish it right now, or it’s not the perfect Thanksgiving, there are things to be thankful for. I remembered that tonight. It seems like a good thing to keep in mind.
So I am still unhappy about last week. It was definitely not a great week. And this week may not be easy either. But I have found in my life that it is too simple to have good things happen and then be grateful. Anyone can do that. It is far more challenging to have bad things happen, find something, anything to be thankful for, and then slowly (or sometimes even quickly), things turn around. I think being thankful needs to come first. And what greater challenge to one’s grace as a human being than to be thankful when things aren’t perfect.
So my mission this week will be to be thankful, and remember all the things I’m grateful for, even on the heels of a personal betrayal. In the end, the good things carry more weight than the bad. And I do believe what Anne Frank said, that in spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart.
I hope that your Thanksgiving will be easy, with a golden turkey, delicious stuffing and all the trimmings, surrounded by people you love who treat you well. But if it is less than perfect, I hope that you find things to be thankful for anyway, and that your gratitude carries you through to better times. I think the ability to be thankful puts balm on many wounds.
I wish you a truly wonderful Thanksgiving, with blessings that are easy to count!!