She held the pumpkin spice latte in her hands and stared beyond my left shoulder. “I don’t get it,” she pondered. “It was like the minute I said I filed for divorce, he began to change.” She went on to tell me that flowers showed up again, he started coming home after work, and dirty dishes were mysteriously in the dishwasher. She lifted her latte to her lips with her ringless hand. “It’s too late now. I feel nothing for him.”
Just a few days after this conversation, I ran into someone that I used to work with. I asked how things were going for her and it was clear that her two-week notice last winter didn’t fix the bitter negativity that kept her from the employee of the month parking space. She went on to tell me about the litany of things she had tried and failed since we worked together. At this point, bankruptcy was her only option given her behemoth amount of credit card debt. She looked down and spoke dryly. “I guess Y’all were right. I should have realized what I had when I had it.”
November is the season for Thanksgiving, a month infused with cranberries, cornucopias by candlelight, and the joy of reuniting with family members over a traditional meal. It also is a time for us to reflect on our abundance. So often we define abundance as the square footage of our home or the ending balance of our bank account. While these are tangible things to be thankful for, there are also many priceless commodities that are the very gifts that we most often take for granted. We wish that the baby would just sleep through the night. We feel tinges of jealousy when that other girl (I’m sure you know her) seems to have her life perfectly perfect all the time. We wish we made more money, wish we hadn’t spent money, and wish we could be more generous. We take up residence in the gray flannel doldrums; not harping on the bad stuff, but not necessarily savoring or expecting the good stuff either. We are too preoccupied to embrace those we love when they walk in the door. We choose the couch and put our phone on silent. We arrive 20 minutes late believing that apathy is normal, or even acceptable. We are so familiar with the norm, we forget to enjoy all of the beauty that the norm brings.
True gratitude is the awareness of everything meaningful in your life and choosing to cherish all of it faithfully and lovingly. All of the people, circumstances, and things that adorn your life are exactly what should be lathered in gratitude. We shouldn’t wait for the third Thursday in November to realize that what we have in these moments is so precious, so finite, and so worth our love and appreciation. This begins with nurturing our own being and then radiating gentle appreciation outward toward those we love and those who cross our paths. Most especially, our prized relationships should never be neglected, particularly to the point of disrepair or irretrievable brokenness. If they matter at all, especially at Thanksgiving, they should matter every day.
For some crazy reason, my heart believes that cooking a Thanksgiving meal is one of the most significant ways I can express my love and appreciation for people I love, even my vegetarian daughter. It is my favorite time of year and I cannot wait to welcome anyone and everyone to my table. It truly is a labor of infinite love, because my home was built specifically to cherish those who would be so kind as to share their most precious gift: time.
Regardless of how you celebrate Thanksgiving, or if you celebrate at all, my encouragement to you is to experience true gratitude; to cherish every beloved, annoying, wonderful, snoring, joyous, messy, yet authentic and irreplaceable loving presence in your life.