A lot of my Facebook friends have been doing that “30 Days of Thankfulness” thing, where they list something they’re thankful for every day in November.
I know some people criticize things like that: “Why are you only thankful during November? You should think of stuff to be thankful for all year long! Blah-de-blah-blah.” And yeah, that argument does have merit. We do need to be more aware of our blessings all year long. It reminds me of how during the Thanksgiving season there’s always a ridiculous supply of volunteers for soup kitchens, and then lots of people forget about volunteering the rest of the year.
But here’s the thing: maybe sometimes we do forget to count our blessings in February. Or April. Maybe if it wasn’t for the reminder, we would forget to count them this month. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not thankful. It just means that life is busy, that other things can get in the way, that the mountains of daily stressors that pile up day after day sometimes make the little things in life seem like not only a molehill, but an anthill.
But isn’t that a good reason to have these reminders? Facebook memes may seem forced and non-genuine, but I admit, seeing what other people posted got me thinking about what I was thankful for. It made me stop and reflect, which is never a bad thing.
Even though I try to be positive and optimistic, even though I am a very positive and optimistic person, it’s still nice to have that reminder, that cue that it’s okay to slow down and think about the good that’s around me.
Because isn’t that’s what Thanksgiving is all about? A day to pause and rest? To gather with friends and family and eat delicious food? Not as a “let’s stuff ourselves and feel guilty afterward” experience, but as a celebration, a treat for our bodies and for our selves.
So I’m okay with the reminder to be thankful. It reminds me of the affirmations and quotes that I used to write everywhere in early recovery:
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
YOU MUST DO THE THING YOU THINK YOU CANNOT DO.
I had collages and place mats and plates and journals filled with affirmations. And eventually, they started to sink in.
Maybe the spirit of Thanksgiving will sink in, too. So, to do my part, here’s a few things I’m thankful for:
- My husband, who has dealt with my ups and downs for a good decade, and has somehow emerged intact from the storm of my emotional craziness. A husband who loves Jeopardy! almost as much as I do, who always knows the right thing to say when I’m freaking out about something or other, and who is the best partner in parenting I could ask for.
- Our two girls. Having them 23 months apart was a TOUGH transition, but they are so much fun right now. E is a bundle of energy, a future CEO obsessed with Ariel and Ursula who narrates her life in story form and spends 50% of the day singing. L is a big-sister-loving bookworm who can “read” a good amount of the books in her bookshelf before age two. They are caring, thoughtful, sweet, and I love their emerging senses of humor.
- My TSG, a group of eight librarian/book-loving friends I met on Twitter and bonded with immediately. We all have kids around the same age and started out calling ourselves the “Baby Support Group.” Babies turned into toddlers and now into kids (we should really rename ourselves) and we stayed talking. We text all day long and I would be lost without their help guiding and supporting my parenting and personal life.
- My job. For giving me the much-needed outlet to be a professional librarian outside of my mom role.
- Writing. For the satisfaction it gives me in creating characters, a world, and a finished product. For words, how they fit together, and the images they portray. For the opportunity to show myself that if I work hard and put in the effort, my craft will improve and shine. For the ever-supportive writing community.
- For my dreams of publication, which I still hold on to tightly, despite the road behind and ahead of me.
- My mom. For watching my girls while I work my part-time job so we don’t have to put them into day care. She is an amazing grandmother and they love her so much. For my dad, who is always thinking of a way to make them happy.
- For my in-laws. I truly hit the jackpot here. They help with child-care at a moment’s notice, are there to listen to my problems and worries, and love the girls and us so much.
- For my mind, which is steadier and more stable than it has been since high school. For my body, which is finding itself again. The body that nourished two babies, ran two half-marathons, and leads me through each day of mothering and living.
- For books. My friends, my stress-relief, my escape. I could gush all day.
These are the big things, not the little things. I didn’t mention that I’m grateful for washing machines and dishwashers, for girls who sleep through the night and for finally finding a brand of ballet flats that fit me. I didn’t mention that I’m thankful for mint chocolate chip ice cream and the Honey BBQ Chicken Wrap at The 99, or for flip flops weather and my warm robe and fuzzy slippers.
These little things are often just as important as the big things: like how E says the opposite of “upside down” is “upside up”, or how L keeps belting out a mishmash of “Old MacDonald had a farm and BINGO was his name-o!” Like E’s squeezy hugs and the way L smells. Like the way my husband has never stopped encouraging me with my writing and how he sings a certain little tune when he’s going about his business.
I’ll keep trying to remember everything, the big things and the little things. If I forget, could you remind me?
I’ll do the same for you.