Remembering to be Thankful

25 Nov

A few days late, but that doesn’t matter because we need to be thankful the other 364 days of the year as well.

This year I have much to be thankful for. Finding a place to start will be the hard part, but here it goes:

  • Second chances at happiness, friendship and love
  • Technology and it’s ability to connect me with friends and family who are far away
  • Broken hearts and promises and the lessons they teach us
  • My large, over-the-top family
  • My personal health and the improving health of my little sister. See her story here.
  • Graduating from college
  • My current temporary job turning into a full-time job with benefits
  • Mistakes and hard decisions, or rather the opportunities for growth each provide us with
  • Loving parents who support me in my decisions
  • Little sisters who make me laugh and remind me to relax and enjoy life
  • True Friends who are there when times are good and when they are bad
  • Living in a land where I have the ability to express my thoughts and ideas without having to live in fear
  • The men and women who were not able to spend the holiday with their families so that I may live in this country
  • For the roof over my head, the food on our table, and the clothes on my back – especially when there are so many who are struggling after the recent storms on the East coast
  • Hard days that allow me to more fully appreciate the wonderful days

Thanksgiving is and always has been my favorite holiday. It’s not because of the food, the day off work or the deals that follow on Black Friday. To me, Thanksgiving is a day spent in the company of my large, close-knit, sometimes embarrassing, but always loving extended family members. I look forward to seeing everyone, catching up on family news, taking silly pictures with my sisters and cousins and enjoying the craziness!

For as long as I can remember, we have always celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family. During my childhood, the festivities were held at my grandparents’ home, where we cleared an area in the living room for the very long table where everyone would sit down together for the meal. Now, I have to explain, this table needed to sit 30 – 40 people at one time, so it was placed diagonally across the room, and once it was set up, chairs and all, there was hardly any room to move about, but we made it work. Well, as you can probably guess, now that my cousins and I are getting older, some have gotten married and started their own families, and we’ve quickly out-grown my grandparents living room. (Last year I believe we had 50 – 60 present at final count!) So for the last 4 or 5 years we’ve held Thanksgiving at the little community church just down the road from where most of us live.

Thanksgiving highlights 2012

However, this year was different. Our numbers were smaller. Only 22 of us… okay, I know what you’re thinking “22 is still a lot of people.” And to that I say, “Yes, yes it is, but when you are used to 50 people, 22 sure feels like no one showed up this year.” It’s not that most of my family members didn’t want to come, it’s more they had more important places to be this year. For example, my cousin Alan lives out-of-state with his wife, and before the end of the year (we believe it’ll happen sometime before Christmas) he is going to be deployed for the second time. Therefore, it was more important for my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and her husband to spend the holiday with him. (Down 4) Another aunt and uncle had the opportunity to visit with another cousin of mine who now lives out of the country with her little family. They were all here last year, so that makes us down 7 more. Their other daughters, one has recently gotten engaged and chose to spend the day with her fiance (down 1), and the other daughter and her family couldn’t make the trip north this year. (Down 5) So if you add those missing family members to those who attended that’s a grand total of 39!! And that’s not even counting everyone! I told you I had a big family!

Everyday I am grateful I have another day on this planet, that I get to worship however I choose, that I have transportation, heat, the basic necessities to live. Too often I think we get caught up in our lives and we forget how blessed we are. From now on, I am going to try harder to remember that I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t have to question where my next meal will come from or how I will stay warm this winter.

I am making it my goal to find something new to be thankful for everyday and I would challenge you to do the same.

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