Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Lot To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for me. In fact, they all are. But Thanksgiving is a holiday that centers around the dinner table, and as the years go by, it becomes harder and harder to ignore the empty spaces. Some spaces are empty because the person just isn't there, other spaces are empty because that family member is no longer with us. For me, it’s the empty chair at the head of the table that hurts that most.

Part of being older is handling these moments, moving on and looking forward. But it's difficult. It's too easy for me to focus on what is gone, instead of being thankful for what is still there. I find myself at the end of Thanksgiving, the end of the holidays, a little sadder, a little older. Just thankful that the season's cheer is over.

This year I found myself overly defensive when people asked my Thanksgiving plans. With the changes in family dynamics, it was going to be a smaller celebration of festivities than normal. I found myself justifying my plans to other people. “Oh just a small gathering,” I would say, “But those can be the best. More pie for me!” Plaster on a fake smile, and I would be set.

But why? What was this need that caused me to excuse my holiday plans? As if a gathering of loved ones, because it was small, was no longer enough.

It makes me think of a book I read: Hector and the Search for Happiness. The story centers on a psychiatrist who sets off on a journey to discover how to be happy. Hector comes up with a list of rules, one of my favorites being: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness. I have to admit, I’m all too guilty of this.

It is very hard to not want what other people have. From little things to big things. It is so easy to compare what I have, to what someone else has, and always want more. I can focus entirely too much on the happy Facebook posts, viral videos of wonderful moments, and beautiful Instagram photos. But social media is a filter just like another of those available on Instagram. People share pieces of their lives, as carefully and brightly packaged as any Christmas gift.

My holiday goal this year is to actually be thankful. To look around me and focus on the things that I have been blessed with. Whether it is my personal life, my writing or my job. To take a moment each day to be thankful for what I have, to recognize the gifts that have been given to me. So thank you for reading and thank you for being you. I hope you have an amazing holiday season, as special and perfect as it can be just for you.

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