multi faith elf

Each Thanksgiving, there’s a tradition in my family, like so many families, where we go around the room and say what we’re thankful for. We used to do this before dinner, but we’ve learned that during dinner works best. Because I have a big family. A big family that likes to throw big parties for just about any reason – holiday, birthday, summer afternoon. And when you have thirty-something people sharing and reflecting, it can take awhile.

I don’t mind speaking in front of a group of people. Not one bit. But I generally prefer to be at the beginning of the giving thanks circle or I find myself trying to come up with something really good to say. Better than whatever first came to mind. Something that expresses my thanks most fully, or at the very least isn’t the same as the person who went before me. I usually end up going with my initial thoughts, which required no rewrite to begin with.

Tis the season for thinking about all the good and not so good in our lives. It begins as we brine the turkey, and we marinate in it through December, wrapping up the year with a list of resolutions for how we’ll make the next year better and brighter. And in that way the universe works, this push to eat, drink and be merry, can cast an equally bright light on what isn’t right. On the things that hurt and the stuff that no amount of tinsel can make glimmer. But I think that’s OK. The disappointments and the tragedies, and everything in between, they enhance our senses and leave us more vulnerable and aware. And that makes all the difference in the best ways if we’re lucky enough. It leaves us open to feel more and live more and be more.

Rarely does it occur to me how First World a problem it is to have so many reasons to be thankful that I sit in a room with dozens of people trying to pick the best ones to share. Not one. Ones. Multiple good things. I mean, it really should be something I think about all the time. But sometimes I can get so caught up in the stress and the struggles. They’re real. Very real. Life isn’t always pretty but a little reflection helps. It can make it possible to see the light at the end of a tunnel, or if not see it, at least know that it exists.

Some years the list of things that I am grateful for is longer than others, but never ever has it been short. Ever. And for that I am truly thankful.

And now five great things someone else said about gratitude:

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. – Thornton Wilder

Rather than getting more spoilt with age, as difficulties pile up, epiphanies of gratitude abound. – Alain de Botton

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. – Henry David Thoreau

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. – Brené Brown

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy

P.S. While the all-holiday-celebrating coexisting sort of elf my cousin brought to Thanksgiving is a very nice one, check out the brilliant contests still open for #InappropriateElf and #MischievousMensch happening over at Baby Rabies and The 818.

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