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Why I Am Thankful

Thursday, November 25, 2010, 21:07 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Dark cloud, silver liningDo you ever notice that some people are perpetually grumpy? That they seem to look for things to complain about? That they always manage to focus on minor difficulties and refuse to notice major blessings? These are folks who, for reasons I don’t understand, can’t or won’t see what they have that’s good, or rather they see the good but look for something, anything, in it that’s bad. They are not only eternally grouchy, but also miserable to be around. A friend of mine calls it “turning a positive into a negative.” I can’t say I know many such people, but those I do know I avoid like the plague. It takes every ounce of goodwill I have to keep from telling them that I have my own problems and am not particularly interested in hearing them grouse about theirs.

Fortunately, for every person I know who is a devout pessimist, I know a hundred who are more optimistic. Not all of them have easy lives; some have dealt with problems and losses I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It isn’t that they don’t get down or upset or that they never struggle to adjust to life’s curveballs. They simply try to ease the burden of what’s wrong in their lives by appreciating what’s right. To paraphrase my friend, they find the positive hidden behind the negative. They choose not to dwell on life’s difficulties, but rather to be thankful for the rest.

Thanksgiving Day is winding down, and in the course of preparing for and cleaning up after our family dinner, I found my thoughts occasionally besieged by things that are bothering me. So in the spirit of the day, I tried looking on the bright side. I began thinking of the good that has come from some of the more trying times of my life. A small sampling:

  • When I was a child, my brother, who was a year and a half younger than I, died of cancer. My other brother, the youngest of us three, doesn’t remember him at all. I am thankful that I remember him and that we had some fun together in the short time he was here.
  • I became a single mother at a young age and struggled financially and emotionally. I regret the mistakes I made and feel bad that I can’t go back and give my son a better childhood. But I am thankful that he is healthy and happy and that we have a positive relationship.
  • I have spent most of my adult life grieving (consciously or unconsciously) the failure of a relationship with the love of my life. Though we reconnected a year and a half ago, we are still apart. But I am thankful to have had him in my life and to have experienced real love with him.
  • The last of my grandparents, my maternal grandmother, died five and a half years ago. I miss seeing her and my other three grandparents and wish I had spent more time listening to their stories about their lives before I came along. But I am thankful that I knew all four of my grandparents, plus two of my great-grandparents.
  • My family sometimes drive me crazy. We have conflicting personalities among us, and I often feel like they’re prying into my private business. But having been joined for Thanksgiving dinner by a friend who is experiencing estrangement from one of her grown children, I am thankful that my family and I ultimately love and respect each other.
  • Finally, I am exhausted from two days of advance preparation for the holiday and a full day of cooking, serving, and cleaning up. It was a lot of hard work for an event that was over very quickly. But I am thankful that we have food in abundance, a comfortable place in which to share it, and that I have the physical ability to do all I had to do to make our gathering a success.

None of us have perfect lives. It is my hope that on this Thanksgiving Day, you dear readers were able to appreciate some of the blessings in yours.

Categories: life
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