Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, of course, but I also look forward all year to the Macy’s Day Parade (I used to go in person every year as a kid!) and running in my local Turkey Trot. But I also love the fact that it’s an entire day dedicated to reflecting on and enjoying the good things in life – the company of family and friends, a good dinner, and a warm home. I love taking a step back and counting all of my blessings.
That said, some years it’s easy and fun to count my blessings on Thanksgiving. Other years, it’s a bit more of a challenge. In the more trying times, whether you’re concealing an ache in your heart or you’ve complained to the world, Thanksgiving can feel like a pressure cooker. (Please pardon the bad cooking joke.) It’s hard enough to get through the day-to-day grind when you’re not feeling yourself – but to add merry-making into the equation, sometimes, is just too much.
I had a miserable 2011 Thanksgiving – as much as I tried to focus on the positives, all I could think about was the one thing I didn’t have: a baby. In 2012, I had my baby, and she was enough. Just getting her home from the hospital was a major blessing, and the fact that we got to celebrate Thanksgiving with her at home felt miraculous. In 2013, I was just in a good place. Hubby was happy in his job, I was enjoying being a stay-at-home mom, and our little family unit was ticking along happily.
2014 is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, we have so many blessings to appreciate this year. A new house to love and make our own. Solid jobs in which we both get to do what we enjoy, with colleagues we like and respect. A sweet, cuddly, affectionate, curious and hilarious toddler to love wildly every day. And a new little presence in our lives, growing bigger and stronger each day until he makes his appearance in March (but no sooner, Nugget!).
But at the same time, I’d be a delusional Pollyanna if I said that everything was great. To be honest, we’ve felt for the past year as if we’re barely keeping our heads above water. There was the insanely stressful housing hunt, complicated by the fact that our landlord refused to allow us to continue in our lease month-to-month after the expiration of a year in our rental. Had we wanted to renew the lease for another year, they’d have been thrilled – we were great tenants who took good care of the place and always paid our rent on time. But they simply wouldn’t hear of a month-to-month arrangement, which left us with a hard deadline to get out of the rental, and there were some tense weeks in which we honestly thought we would have nowhere to live. As it was, we moved out of our rental the day before the lease expired. And shortly after that, everything broke – both cars, numerous appliances, Peanut’s finger… We’re just now digging out of that hole, and no sooner did we start getting the things fixed than we were hit with a situation that has upset us both, me to the point of crying in my car about it. (Pregnancy hormones are probably factoring into that, too.) I’m not going to get into the details – suffice it to say, it’s been a rough fall. And then, because broken appliances, sick friends and personal drama isn’t quite enough, we got six feet of snow dumped on us courtesy of Winter Storm Knife. (Dumbest name for a storm ever, by the way.)
All this is to say, it’s been a rough fall. We could all use a break from the stress and frustration. And it’s looking to be one of those Thanksgivings where, despite all the great things we have in our lives, we’re going to struggle to smile. But Thanksgiving doesn’t always have to be easy, does it? Some years, you have to force yourself to stop wallowing and celebrate. This might be one of those years, but we’re going to try – for Peanut’s sake, if not for our own. I’m not sure how I’ll feel tomorrow – maybe I’ll wake up with a big smile on my face and ready to party. Stranger things have happened. But even if I don’t, I’m going to have fun running the Turkey Trot, and I’m going to remind myself that I’m grateful I can be out there running at almost 24 weeks pregnant. Then when I get home, I’m going to watch the Macy’s Day Parade with Peanut and point out my favorite floats and balloons to her. We’re going to make turkeys from tracings of our hands, and a gratitude tree, and we’re going to sing songs and read books and eat a delicious meal and probably watch Tinker Bell on Netflix again and enjoy each other’s company. And it will all be okay.
I don’t know if 2014 is going to be one of those banner holiday years. But I’m going to try to make it special for Peanut and hubby, and maybe by extension, for me. And I hope that at the end of the day tomorrow, I’ll be full of turkey and potatoes and my favorite apple-cranberry pie, and of happiness and gratitude for my blessings, of which there are so many.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow.