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Last week, my most favorite of holidays! It’s changed over the years and probably will again at some point. There’s something to be said for a day to gather with family, none of the pressure present from having to secure gifts for the giving, only the preparing and sharing of masses of quantities of food, and then the subsequent plopping down onto comfy couches and such until the veritable food coma passes. More importantly a day that should one choose provides the perfect opportunity to reflect back on the year’s happenings, and recognize the good. What one’s thankful for. And blessed by. There is always, always something to be thankful for, no matter how small it may be! Once identified, it can so be focused on as to grow and grow, be magnified until it spreads multiplying to eclipse the bad, birthing new hope into the dark places. Below, a partial list of what I’ve been thankful for this year …

As I sat down next to her, she reached over and scooped up my hand.

A few weeks back, I stopped by my grandma’s one evening on the way home from a day out and about. My mom is currently living there as well, so it was a two-birds-with-one-stone-kinda-deal. Since my grandpa passed away nearly two years ago, my grandma has allowed it to make her bitter on many levels. She can be quite awnry and contemptible and, though, I love her, as she’s the “grandma,” it’s hard for me to stay in her presence for very long. I wish she’d apply some of that fiestiness she has for good, instead of towards just being stubbornly “right.” She’s often alone in her “rightness.” Upon entering the living room, my grandma wasn’t nestled in her usual plush chair rocking and sewing. Instead she was on the couch where she immediately beckoned for me to come sit. As I sat down next to her, she reached over and scooped up my hand. My heart warmed and I instantly felt a rush of acceptance. That was all it took. She held my hand as my mom sat across the way and time passed by. My grandma fell into her usual routine of asking if I watch “the Wheel” and that Jeopardy show, as she asks me every time I see her. She was loving and kind, I didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to bask in her offering. It’s by far my favorite moment with her! I needed that.

Every autumn, there comes a point when a crispness in the air arrives, settling into more days than not, and it comes time for “The Annual Lobster Shower.” One of those showers where the water’s so hot it may burn your skin right off and you just don’t care because you’re chilled to the bone. The water beats down building an internal warmth chasing away the cold. Any energy to be had has been melted far and away and you’re just a pile of matter encased in an outer soft shell of bright red lobsterness. Utterly spent! There’s nothing to do, but fall into bed at that point and marvel at the toasty warm goodness that fills and surrounds you. Such events require a “le sigh.” Le sigh …

For gratitude itself, for understanding it’s power to restore and renew even the most wretched of lives. It can provide a release from anger and bitterness, sadness and despair. It can cause one to begin seeing the joy in everything, not by erasing the harsh realities of this world, rather by replacing the harsh realities within ourselves. It starts ever so small with the smallest of acknowledgments: The mailman smiled at me today. I’m stuck in traffic, but hey, I have a car. I woke up to another day, another chance. These acknowledgments accumulate, grow, until they’re a juggernaut of change that cannot be easily halted, and one day you look around at the life you knew and the scape has changed. For the better. I am thankful for so much these days that I feel I may burst at times, I can’t contain it, it’s gonna shoot outta my heart, hit the sky and rain down on everything, cover the world in new joy, giving new eyes to see from. There’s a quote in that movie American Beauty that says, “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.” I feel like that more and more! Even at the lowest of the low.

Many have no food, no shelter, no escape from the elements

It’s occurred to me that what I’ve deemed as problems and struggles in my life, are nothing, nothing in comparison to what the majority of the world has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Many have no food, no shelter, no escape from the elements whether that means a place to warm up or a place to cool down. This is a common realization, I know. Here, so many of our problems are as follows, though:

• My air conditioning isn’t working. (One is lucky enough to have air conditioning in the first place)

• It’s too cold in here, turn the air conditioning off.

• Man, I have to do laundry: Dump multiple clothing items in washer, press/pull button and/or dials. Whew, workin’ up a real sweat there!

• The store’s out of BBQ potato chips. Gotta choose from one of 20 plus other flavors. Bummer!

So, within the past year’s time, I’ve grown to appreciate what I deem as trials in my life. Yes, my problems, I’ll take any day. I’m positioned perfectly to make all my dreams come true! A cliche phrasing of words, a most desired sentiment. It so grabs me as to fill me with fight and renewed strength.

I woke up one day recently to check that shelf in my mind where I store that nasty fear of ABANDONMENT I’ve had ever since my mother stepped down from sanity and left our family reeling at the age of 14. Only to find that I no longer seem to fear others abandoning me! My weakness, to go unacknowledged, forgotten, abandoned. If you want to hurt me, that’s the way to do it. Or was. Assuming you’re one in my heart of hearts. In varying degrees and for varying reasons, some my own fault, others not, I’ve experienced what I named as my worst fear more than one should, and seeing I can live through it only to still choose to love and forgive and remain open, untainted, means more freedom. And further still, I’ve learned sometimes those who’ve left, they come back.


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