Every year after Halloween, I start mentally counting the days until my favorite of all holidays arrives. As much as this day is about the fantastic food, that we eat way too much of, and the happiness of having most of my family together, this is not why Thanksgiving has such a special place in my heart.
When I was younger, I LOVED Christmas. Couldn't wait for the excitement of opening gifts and seeing if I got what I wanted. Thanksgiving was not quite as special. I actually volunteered to work on Thanksgiving when I was in high school... But at some point I realized that while I still loved the spirit of Christmas and the religious celebration, most of December had become a crazy, stressed out time for me, and I actually found myself one year, wishing Christmas was over. I think that next year started my love of Thanksgiving. There really aren't a lot of requirements and expectations for this day. Yes, the food can be important, but really, I don't ever remember a year that I thought "If only Aunt Sally (pseudo aunt) had made a few more pies...", or " I can't believe Cousin Bob (pseudo cousin) brought green beans. I wanted corn..." It just seems to be a day that we all do our part and then just hang out and really take some time to 'be'.
As I add more Thanksgivings to my memory banks, I find it interesting that the things I'm thankful for have also changed over the years. I will always be thankful for my family and their health, having a home and plenty of food, and knowing that I am blessed with wonderful friends and family to support me, but I seem to find a new little something to add to that general list each year.
This year's thankful thought struck me in somewhat of an unusual place-the parking lot of the school. My girls have to be at school half an hour before I do, so I often sit in my car in the parking lot and read, pray, meditate, or just enjoy the silence. I had been contemplating my recent job change and how I still kind of feel like I'm finding my way. I enjoy my job and like my co-workers, but I keep thinking I should have this whole feeling of contentment and idea of being happily settled, that just isn't there yet. During this musing, a person got out of his vehicle and walked into the building. This is a person who I try to avoid, not because of a personal dislike, but because this person complains... a lot... like every time I can count on hearing about how bad this is, or that is, or the government did this, or so-and-so wastes money on that..., he should be paid more to do his job while others should be paid less to do theirs... I really don't hate him, but I dislike how 'down' I feel after I talk with him. But I digress.
My gut reaction to seeing this person was an eye roll and wondering what was going to be the complaint of the day. Yes, I am far from perfect... But, this was immediately followed by the thought that I was quite blessed to be as happy as I am. Now this where it gets a bit ironic because this guy's home is much nicer and larger than mine, his vehicle is more expensive and newer, and I know their family has more money as well. But there I sat in my 'finally' paid off used car thinking how much luckier I am than that person because I can see the joy in my life.
I like my job and all of those moments when I feel like I'm contributing something of value, even if my paycheck would make most people laugh. I may not get paid what I'm 'worth', but I really do feel that the rewards are as good as money most days, and my job allows me time with my girls (who will be grown and gone before I know it). I enjoy those moments when a student who has been struggling finally 'gets it' and wants to rush to me for a high five, or puffs out his chest in pride over an improved grade. I even love the times when my own kids are shrieking and squealing when I'm trying to focus or relax. They are my reminders of why I'm here and sometimes being in that moment is more important that any other time in the world. I can also be thankful that even though our country is far from ideal, it is still a pretty awesome place, and I can be a part of trying to make it better for myself, my children, and my children's children.
So while my morning had started out wondering if I was still on the right path, the sight of one grumpy person made me realize that I have a lot to be thankful for and that while my life might not be all that I expected, it's still a really good life, and I have a grouch to thank for that! Quite fitting somehow...
Whether you are celebrating today with me or just popping by, I hope your day is filled with happiness and thankful thoughts for all of your blessings! Have a wonderful rest of the week!