Today, after running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to shop for Thanksgiving dinner, my son asked me to read him “Being Thankful,” by Mercer Mayer. And BOY did I need to read that book!
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the wrong things this time of year. It’s easy to focus on all the things you wish you had, where you wish you lived, what you wish you could do. It’s easy to spend your days, minutes and seconds thinking of all the things you are missing. I admit that spending my holiday season across the country from my family makes me sad and dare I say ungrateful. Today as I schlepped around the grocery store TWICE with my 2-year-old, I was less than grateful. I wished I could have been going home to my dad’s Thanksgiving meal. I wished I could have someone to watch my 2-year-old for an hour so I didn’t have to grocery shop while he chucked apples at people’s heads, yelled “oh shit” (his new favorite words), and pulled EVERYTHING off the shelves as I tried to navigate the pre-Thanksgiving madness. I wished I knew how to cook so Thursday didn’t seem so daunting. I wished we had an actual house with a yard. I wished someone else was doing the cooking. I wished I had a stand mixer so my cheesecake was light and fluffy instead of hard and clumpy. I wished a lot of things.
I needed a shift in my perspective. I needed to read a children’s book. Because one little paperback book put me in my place. It shut it down. It let me see how insanely ridiculous I was being and how ungrateful it really all was. You see I am, in fact, incredibly grateful for what I have. I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have the simplest things like food to eat. But I didn’t realize how all the wishing and wanting going on inside my head was so ungrateful. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s totally healthy and beneficial to have hope. I think hope is necessary. But there comes a point where you are wasting time focusing on what you wish was different instead of appreciating what you have.
I strongly suggest everyone own and read a copy of ‘Being Thankful”. It is the sweetest book about a little boy who wishes he had all these cool things like the newest scooter, fancy shoes, a boat, a big house with a pool. His parents tell him how great the things he already has are, but he doesn’t ‘get it’ until he goes to his grandparents’ farm and he sees how grateful the animals are for the simplest things – food, attention, affection. His grandparents give him a little blue “thankful rock” to keep in his pocket and remind him to remember all the things he is thankful for.
I now have one more activity on the to do list for our Thanksgiving festivities…and it involves painting some rocks – Thankful Rocks. I love family traditions – especially when they focus on all the right things. Our new family tradition this year is painting thankful rocks that we can carry through the holiday season as a reminder to wish for less and appreciate what we have more.
Here’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.
FRIENDS: My friends are family. I don’t have a lot of friends. I don’t make casual acquaintances very easily. Because of that, the friends I do have are the truest of friends. The kind you don’t have to pretend to be anything other than yourself around. The kind that will drop everything if you need them. The kind that no matter how much time goes between a visit or conversation, it’s like no time has passed.
THE ABILITY TO STAY HOME: I’m so so so fortunate that I have a CHOICE. That unlike so many moms that for financial or other reasons HAVE to work. I am incredibly thankful that I am able to choose to stay home, and that I have the freedom of choosing what is best for me and my family. Not every mom is given a choice, and while some days I wonder what the ‘right’ choice is, I am grateful that I can decide what the ‘right’ answer for me and my family is.
I could list more things, but let’s be honest…this is the REAL stuff. The rest of it – all the material things…they are
dispensable. They could be taken away and life would go on. But FAMILY, FRIENDS, HEALTH, FREEDOM TO CHOOSE, those things, well, they are what’s imprinted on the thankful rock that is my heart.
What are you thankful for? What do you do to stay grateful?