Just coming off another round of holidays—the last two month’s full of occasions when ones family gathers around tables of food; and one in particular that traditionally includes giving thanks and remembering all one has to be thankful for—it can be hard as both a single and a widow not to feel sorry for myself for all I have lost. Used to be that my family and his family—both sets of parents, my sister, his cousins and their parents—-would gather on nearly every special occasion when we lived in New York. Pictures on my Facebook wall prove that once upon a time, there were countless backyard barbecues and gatherings on Christmas Eve when we all were together. One by one, I have lost the people that smile back at me in those pictures. Yes, my dad is still here, my step mom and step family have filled the gaps somewhat. His cousins are but a comment away to a post or a picture. But it’s not the same and it can be hard for me as I am sure it is for many others, when the holidays come and there are empty chairs at the table. Add my birthday (and my sister’s birthday a mere four days after mine) and you can see why the Christmas holidays are not as joyful for me as in past years (although the Reason for the season will always have my heart). So I could easily slip into that well of despair that claims a lot of lives during what should be a happy time of the year. And I have dipped a little low this year, I will admit.
I read something online that captured my attention in regards to this; it said in order to stop dwelling on what you didn’t have, to write down five things everyday that you were thankful for. If you know me at all, you know I love writing exercises! So on December 27, 2015 (I couldn’t make myself wait until Jan 1), I bought myself a hard cover journal and wrote Grateful and Thankful on the front. Each day since then, I have written down five things that I thank God for blessing me with. I’ll admit, some days have been a struggle, but then I just thank him for eyes that see, ears that hear, mouth that talks, well you get the idea. Other days are easy—my salvation; my freedom from various addictions; the roof over my head, my job, etc. I figured I would wait a while and re-read them but also, if you know me at all, I have no patience; so I have gone back and read some of the entries and it’s good stuff. It has definitely helped me see that I am so blessed!
I also read something else that I have found to be true—whatever it is that you have (and may be taking for granted), there is someone out there who wishes they had it too. Singles who want a spouse; marrieds who wish they were single. People in apartments wanting houses; homeowners who, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of maintaining a house, wish they had a landlord instead to take care of it. Country folk who long for city life and city dwellers who want to live in wide open spaces.
There is a lady who works in one of the stores that I visit; she is a greeter at the Walmart in Charlottesville. I don’t go in there very often, but when I do and she is there, she always has the best attitude—always smiles and welcomes me to the store. And you might say, well that’s her job, that’s what they pay her to do. And that is true, but what you don’t know if you’ve never seen her is, she is in a wheelchair and not only that—she has no legs below her knees. There are plenty of people who would not even bother to work in her condition; they would go on assistance and that would be completely understandable. But somehow, this lady not only comes to work but has one of the best attitudes when she’s there. I don’t know her story, I don’t know anything about her—but somehow I think she must be grateful—thankful that she can still make a contribution to society and she does! She welcomes people to Walmart and maybe in doing so, hopefully in doing so–someone who might be feeling down for all they don’t have (and understandably so, not judging anyone) takes a look at her and realizes they do have a lot—they can walk and jump and run, where she can not. But more importantly than that, hopefully they look at her and realize if she can be happy with her lot in life, so can they.
The older I get the more I realize it’s not the things I have that I’m thankful for most–it’s the people in my life; the memories we have made. I don’t need much in the way of material things—I could furnish most of that on my own. I have loved and I have been loved and am still loved.
So the next time you’re feeling down—it happens to all of us—jot some things on a piece of paper that you are thankful for. You might think you don’t have much, but you will be surprised, I guarantee!