I love Thanksgiving. I really do. I love it as much as most other holidays because they bring families, friends and sometimes strangers together. What I don't love about Thanksgiving is the pressure. And I know it's probably self-inflicted pressure. I fear it's a pressure I place on every holiday. Sigh.
Sometimes, in the middle of loss, it's hard to be #grateful, #thankful, #blessed. I think this is especially true on a day when you are SUPPOSED to be this way and MUST proclaim it in front of everyone. At our Thanksgiving celebration, we usually read a prayer and then we go around the table saying what each of us is thankful for. This is how we do it at our family's Thanksgiving. Maybe you do something similar or maybe you don't. I think it's really lovely and I've always liked it.
That first Thanksgiving without Greg, however, I was dreading this part. The day started out hard for me because that wonderful thing that I love about holidays - that they bring families together - also seems to shine a light on family members who are missing and the emptiness that brings. So on this particular Thanksgiving in 2013, I announced that I was thankful for my girls. And that was all. I looked down because I wanted everyone to stop looking at me. It was all I could muster because mostly I was thinking about what was missing, our special someone who should have been sitting next to me, holding my hand, smiling and winking at me throughout dinner. But I just didn't want to unleash tears all over the dinner table. It would have been okay, but I didn't want to. There was a bit of a pause before the next person began their turn.
This year, as we host Thanksgiving, my 9-year-old announced that she wanted to write this year's prayer. She has written a part for each family member attending and she made sure to acknowledge those family members who are so glaringly missing from the day. If there are some teary eyes over this Thanksgiving table, it will be okay.
The other day I read an article written by a woman who lost her 23-year-old son and began her healing by finding comfort in "Just One Little Thing" a day to be grateful for. "Over time," she writes, "this path of gratitude was healing me, and tethering me to the present moment as I grieved. And in the present moment, I was okay". Her article on HUFFPOST is titled,
How Grieving with Gratitude Saved Me. Take a look. It feels like an easy enough place for us to start.
As you sit down with your families this Thanksgiving, please don't let the Thanksgiving spirit pressure you into feeling like you aren't grateful enough. I'm talking specifically to you if you are drowning in the waves of grief or any other struggle in your life. From what I've witnessed, the people who have experienced loss are some of the most grateful people on this earth. So on Thanksgiving Day, like any other day, remember that one little thing is enough.