Much to the eternal and sometimes vocal dismay of my Catholic Nana, I do not kneel and pray to a recognized God. To the sometimes obvious but never stated disappointment of my mother, I do not attend regular services or partake of sacraments or place all the eggs of my faith in one basket. To my own sorrow at times, I do not carry in my heart the power that comes from belief. Yet despite all of this, I would not hesitate for a moment to say I am blessed. Whether it is God, the gods, Mother Earth, the universe or simply the union of souls which surrounds me, I am indeed, most blessed.
More often than not, I fail spectacularly at realizing the extent of my blessings. I get caught up in the everyday, in the rush of not being able to find my keys in the morning or a child pitching a fit about brushing his teeth, the drudge of the food shopping, the hum-drum lather, rinse, repeat of daily life. The heaviness of the mundane weighs me down. But every so often I burst forth through the trees, momentarily stunned by the sight of my life there in the dappled light, and it is all I can do to keep myself upright. Because by all rights, I should fall to my knees and give thanks.
As a lapsed Catholic agnostic I appreciate the secular sanctioning of giving thanks. Despite a bizarre and rather unpleasant poultry allergy, I am really rather fond of Thanksgiving. Though I should give thanks more often and more freely, having an annual holiday, a big, black date on the calendar to remind me, isn’t a bad thing.
So for these, thy gifts, from whomever or whensoever they come, I am grateful.
I am grateful for modern medicine, without which I may not be ‘Mom’;
I am grateful for the raucous laughter of my youngest son, for the butterfly kisses he flutters on my cheek;
I am grateful for pumpkin pie and the cast of Hamlet for introducing me to a tall, dark stranger who gate-crashed my life;
I am grateful for my mother and sister, who daily remind me of who I am and who I was and who I shall one day be;
I am grateful for Wine and Cheese Doodles, in both incarnations;
I am grateful for Ikea, because you can’t underestimate the importance of storage solutions, and meatballs;
I am grateful for What a Wonderful World, which will always remind me of dancing with my father;
I am grateful for Google and the endless possibilities of a good search engine;
I am grateful for my mother-in-law for going against the grain and not being that mother-in-law;
I am grateful for my husband’s arms, which have always been strong enough for whatever the need may be;
I am grateful for Skype and Facetime, which make the distance more bearable;
I am grateful for the enthusiasm with which my oldest son greets each morning;
I am grateful for my beloved NYC, which cradled me against her heart, allowing me to harden the bits that needed strength and soften the ones that needed a little melting;
I am grateful for the few more years of my sons looking toward me first when they have news, or skin a knee, or get spooked by a nightmare;
I am grateful for circumstance and fortune, which have granted me the gift of indulging my writing;
I am grateful for the friends I have made; the ones from grade school, the ones from high school, the ones who helped me navigate my twenties, the ones who buffered those sleepless thirties and the ones that have helped me usher in these retrospective forties;
I am grateful for written words and their ability to express what is sometimes difficult to say;
I am grateful for bacon cheeseburgers, the anti-kosher manna;
I am grateful for books and the exquisiteness of a compelling story;
I am grateful for Denmark, for making me truly appreciate sunlight;
I am grateful to my own jumbled and tangled consciousness for seeing me through, despite my best efforts at times;
I am grateful that there is always the promise of breaking through the trees and seeing what really matters there before you;
I am grateful for the fourth Thursday in November for giving me a reason to pause, a reason to reflect, a reason to count my blessings and for the American government seeing fit to make it important enough to mark it in bold on my calendar.
We all need a few little pushes and shoves to see the forest for the trees, to cherish the now, to indulge in the schmaltz, to take stock and give thanks. Even those of us who don’t pray and are allergic to turkey.
Tell me, what are you grateful for?