Last week was busy. Between my mother’s birthday (the day before Thanksgiving), the holiday itself, a family get-together and work, I was on the go a lot or surrounded by people. I even worked a brief Black Friday shift handing out coffee as people waited in Meijer to be able to purchase the items filling their carts. (Thankfully, Meijer’s deals weren’t too competitive so it wasn’t especially crazy). In the little free time I’ve had, I’ve been reflecting on thisholiday.
Ever since I stopped using the outline of my hand to draw turkeys and making Pilgrim/Native American headwear out of construction paper, Thanksgiving began to lose its luster for me. Mostly, I think of it as simply the precursor to Christmas. It’s the event that signals that we can start listening to holiday music as we pull out and put up Christmas decorations. It’s when I start craving to watch “Love Actually” all the time (it’s my favorite holiday film and the movie I practically watched on repeat the depressing Thanksgiving I spent entirely by myself in NYC my first year in grad school).
None of this is to say that I don’t appreciate the purpose of the holiday but so often, in the rush of cooking and traveling and eating, there is very little time to be reflectively thankful. This year, we didn’t even go around and say what we were thankful for at either of the holiday dinners I went to. Our gathers were about family, food and football but not really thankfulness. Though there is often something a little awkward about that tradition, I missed it.
It isn’t very often that we publically give thanks to others and God for the things we are grateful for. It seems so sentimental, so awkwardly sincere, most of us try to be cooler than that. That’s one of the nice things about Christmas. You don’t have to tell people you love them or appreciate them, you can just try to convey it through a thoughtful gift (or that’s my personal approach to the holiday). But there is value to actually putting words to our gratitude. Both for ourselves and others.
I can definitely be shy about telling people how much I value them. This Thanksgiving I tried to step out of my comfort zone a little. Before my day got especially busy, I took the opportunity to send texts to many of the friends that I’ve been especially grateful for this year (sadly, I think I missed a few). I wished them a good holiday and expressed very simply but sincerely my gratitude for their friendship.* While a text can seem so petty, my greatest pleasure on the holiday was getting their replies.
For me, the timing of this holiday seems especially perfect. As I’ve been sharing with you, God’s been continuing to convince me that I need to cultivate more gratitude for the blessings He’s given me. Since I didn’t have a chance to publically expressing my blessings on Thanksgiving, I’ll share some of them with you all now.
To spare you reading a long list of all the people I’m so very grateful to have in my life, I’ll limit myself to the two greatest blessings this year. They’re both pretty unexpected blessings. The first is moving back in with my parents and the second is staying on the eastside of Michigan. I never thought I’d be with my parents for this long, nor that I’d stay on this side of the state. I am very thankful that this was God’s plan for me.
While it’s definitely been challenging for me to go from living on my own to living with my parents again, we are closer than we’ve ever been because of it. Just before the holiday, my mom and I resolved our disagreement. Even that struggle was good for us. We have a much stronger, deeper relationship than we’ve ever had. When I’m out on my own again, I don’t think I’ll ever be as distant as I was. Throughout this year, my dad and I have had some of our best conversations. Often, when I’ve felt entirely lost and discouraged, he’s been the one to help me get my bearings back and keep going. I’m more and more appreciative of his guidance and advice.
Staying on this side of Michigan has come with numerous blessings. The first being that God’s used it to re-introduce my former youth leader and other close family friends back into my life. He’s also helped me to re-connect and grow closer to some of my high school friends. I know I’ve mentioned this before but I keep being amazed at how these relationships have been able to resume so easily. The history we have together is so meaningful to me. I’ve also finally found another church that I’m comfortable to call home. For the first time in years, I’m finding myself more motivated to attend church when I’m free on Sundays.
Along with these two, I feel like I must tack on my gratitude for the many experiences I’ve had over the last year. I’ve done lots of different things this year, like making and selling my own purses, giving out Cholula hot sauce around the east coast and hocking office supplies around west Michigan. Along the way, I’ve met so many interesting people. I’m thankful for how all of this has shaped me. I’ve gone from being the girl who wouldn’t talk to strangers unless you paid me to someone who almost can’t go somewhere without striking up a conversation with someone new. I’ve discovered more of what I’m passionate about and what I’m not. Though I wouldn’t have planned for this to be how my year has turned out, I must admit that it’s given me a lot to be thankful for.
What are you thankful for?