Monday, December 5, 2011

Grateful

I've had a half-written post about Thanksgiving for a hundred years now. In that time? My dad came to visit from Texas, my brother was here from Alabama, my mother-in-law stopped over for a few days during her Thanksgiving visit, I had round five of chemo followed by a pre-mastectomy planning meeting with my surgeon, and then a good friend left her family in San Diego for a few days to help our family make it through my post-chemo week intact, which brings me squarely to the whole point of my Thanksgiving post: gratitude. Immense gratitude.

One of my favorite t-shirts is black with the word "Grateful" written across the chest. Is it a little ironic that the word is emblazoned in pink across my breasts? Probably. I bought the shirt a few years ago at a yoga studio, a sartorial reminder of what I was there to practice. These days, I try to wear it with purpose, to let it serve as a reminder that despite cancer, I have so much for which to be grateful.

And then last week a hundred years ago, just before Thanksgiving, I read this article about how Thanksgiving is the healthiest holiday for us, psychologically speaking. And it has nothing to do with the second serving of mashed potatoes. Turns out, feelings of gratitude can lead to "better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners." That's a heap of expectation you've set for yourself, there, gratitude.

If I'm being honest, I had a tough time plating up my serving of gratitude this year. Sure, I'm infinitely thankful for my son (I mean, check out this sweet boy),
my husband, my extended family and friends, my health insurance...the usual stuff. Yet I still felt more disengaged than I'd like on Thanksgiving - which probably had something to do with trying to keep Quinn to a semi-normal eating and sleeping schedule while feasting at another person's house with 35 other people. Our boy does not like to miss a party.

And it's tough to fully engage in conversation while an 8-month-old wriggles on your lap. He practiced making raspberries with his lips while I tried to feed him sweet potatoes and catch up with my husband's aunt who's only in town a couple times a year. We made a mess. I felt anxious because the day was moving past me too quickly. I hadn't spent enough quality time with anyone, and before I knew it they were on to after-dinner drinks and engaged in soft conversations of their own. Plus, by then it was getting to be past Bug's bedtime and we needed to get home.

As I settled into the driver's seat for the ride home, I realized that - harried and disjointed as it may sometimes be, this is life. I wish I didn't need the occasional reminder to be grateful for it, even in its imperfection, even when it seems to move by too quickly or get cut off mid-sentence by a zerbert-making eight nine-month-old. Even when it hits you with cancer. If nothing else, the New York Times says that thoughts of gratitude can lead to better health, which is reason enough for me to give thanks. Better health, here I come.

3 comments:

  1. I love your attitude. Keep it up. Not sure how long your drive was, but I spend 10 hours in the car with a 3 1/2 year old and a 22 month old...all of a sudden I was so thankful for the Pandora Disney station. Never thought I would say that! And thank you for your wonderful posts.

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  2. What a great reminder, things are always harried this time of year.
    Praying for you...

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