But even with all these blessings, I must admint I am finding it a bit difficult this year to give thanks. If I acted on some of my feelings, my thank you might sound more like, "Thanks a lot!" dripping with a sauce of sarcasm or worse, a roux of rue.
Amid the good things, 2012 also brought with it several helpings of disappointment, disbelief and despair. Sadness was served up for my family and me. Maybe you were served some too. We lost a loved one and recognized the first anniversary of another significant loss. All in our families (mine and my husband's) have struggled this year in many ways. But I know my family is not so different from yours. I am trying to recognize the benefit for these struggles, and my plate keeps coming up empty.
On a broader level, after the election, half of our country was left feeling like commerically-bred turkeys, ready for consumption. The other half of our country walked away from the election table feeling full and sated. And now the government is arguing over who gets credit for the meal and who's going to clean the kitchen. Politics always ruin dinner.
Trying to explain all of these personal tragedies and public debacles to my two young sons all the while leaving them with some shred of innocence is near impossible.
This isn't the Thanksgiving post you were expecting? Please accept my apologies. But I can't write a glib, all roses Thanksgiving post this year. I know I have an abundance for which to be grateful, but it is hard to appreciate stuff when the real things are out of order. People you love struggling, people you love no longer with us; those are the real things. Some of those real things may not change easily. And some of them definitely can't change. Even so, my sarcasm and bitterness definitely won't help. I know that gratitude is healing when change is slow and all else fails.
I grew up in a house full of Boy Scouts, my three brothers. At many a mealtime, we recited the Boy Scouts' Grace. I was recently reminded of that prayer as it was posted in my son's Boy Scout Camp dining hall:
Our family version of this prayer was this:
for friendship, for fellowship
We thank Thee O Lord
Now that I have been reminded of this prayer, I recall it as one of my favorites back then. I like this simple prayer today just as much.
The path back to gratitude will have to be a simple one for me. I can be grateful for these simple things: food, basic necessities, life itself, opportunity, time with family and friends. These are real things too. Thankfulness for the other real things that are blocking my path to greater gratitude will have to come later.
Have a simple but Happy Thanksgiving.