The best part of Thanksgiving has got to be cold turkey sandwiches the next day, with cranberry sauce and stuffing (yes, that’s bread within the bread, an explosion of carbohydrates that never fails to make me happy). Or maybe it’s lying around, dog-like, after eating a big meal, with no expectations beyond passive digestion.
A close second, however, is the chance to stop, get off the merry-g0-round of life, and spend some time being grateful for what we have. Every year around this time I like to write down what I am thankful for (actually, I do it several times a week but it always feels extra special during the Thanksgiving holidays.) I’ve posted two blogs with similar themes in the past (2009 and 2011), and it’s interesting to go back and read what I’ve written. If you are not in the practice of keeping a journal, or writing down on ocassion what you are grateful for, I highly recommend it.
Here is this year’s list, this week, this day:
I’m thankful to be safe. Of course, that’s a relative term.
We all know that any of us could die tonight, but compared to most of the people in the world, and compared to some earlier periods in my life, I feel safe and secure and am full of gratitude for that. I have two primary things to thank for that: Jim, and my little farm, which is nestled in the hills of Southern Wisconsin. Frank Lloyd Wright once said “Nothing picks you up in its arms and so gently, almost lovingly, cradles you as do these southwestern Wisconsin hills.” That’s how I feel here— cradled.
I’m thankful to do what I love. I spent many years doing other things, including working as a statistical typist, a cashier, a counselor in a youth advocate program, and for one ridiculous and poorly considered evening, a Go Go girl. Seriously. “Doing what I love” does not mean that every day is a day spent skipping through daisies with Golden Retriever puppies. My work has plenty of challenges and difficulties, as does everyone else’s. I do my complaining to my friends, not here on the blog, and we all know that life has a way of making things difficult sometimes. But I know that I am lucky, really really lucky, to have found a niche that fits and that pushes me, nurtures me and allows me to be who I am. Joseph Campbell said: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Here Here. Extra bonus: Sometimes I get to travel to amazing places, like Worm’s Head in western Wales at sunset.
I’m thankful that I’m healthy. Of course, I’d rather be stronger, and have lungs that worked better, and a back that didn’t complain so much, but really… I know that several of this blog’s readers have serious physical challenges, and I am aware that many of my friends and family are battling scary and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. They say that you never appreciate your health until you lose it, but I try every day to thank my feet and my eyes and my fingers for supporting me in what I do. Have you thanked your body lately for working so hard for you? No? It’s about time… (I’ll spare you a photo of my feet. Another thing for you to be thankful for.)
No surprise to anyone, I’m thankful to Willie and Tootsie and Nellie and Polly and Lady Godiva and all the sheep for all that they give me. I can not imagine a life without animals, I would be beyond bereft. Thank you Willie for the joy and love of life that radiates out of you when you are happy. Thank you Tootsie for keeping my chest warm at night when I lie on the couch and watch television. (Only high level educational programs, of course.) Thank you kitties for allowing me to still have cats, and to savor your crazy intense cat eyes, and impossibly soft fur and for eliminating rats out of my barn. Thank you Lady Godiva for bringing an entirely different umwelt onto the farm; that of a hoofed, herd-living prey animal. Thank you for providing us meat through your lambs, and wool from your elegant body.
Last, but never least to me, I’m grateful for food. So many people are starving or barely getting by in the world today. It is a great tragedy that this is true in my own country right now, and is inexcusable in my opinion. This holiday season I hope to be volunteering at Second Harvest, which provides healthy food for the many people in need in today’s society. And here I am, luxuriating in organic, local food that I can enjoy every day. And I do, I do. I’ll be making both a pumpkin pie and an apple pie for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Lucky, lucky me.
And you? Write down what you are grateful for, it is a wonderful exercise, even if life is extra difficult right now, it is healing to focus for a time on what IS right. I’ll love reading what you write as the holiday goes on…