The Conundrum of Thanksgiving: why be grateful only one day a year?

To be honest, this isn’t a real conundrum for me. I do tend to express a daily gratitude on Facebook. I do this, in part, because I don’t need another journal to store. It also helps keep me honest—if I wasn’t writing blessings on FB, I’m not sure I’d write them down anywhere else. Plus, it provides me an opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge others (there seems to be a lack of this in today’s world). And sometimes it seems to help others. So, it’s my chosen forum for expressing thanks. Most of the time, my posts are day-specific. Occasionally, my gratitude is broader, but not as often. So, in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d express my gratitude for the things that may get overlooked in my life because they aren’t “in my face.” Here’s my list (in no particular order)—and I encourage you to make your own:

Family: I don’t see them very often and some of these relationships are strained for a wide-variety of reasons. However, I love them and I’m glad they are the place from whence I sprang. If it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’m not perfect, but I’ve had a lot of growing opportunities through them.

Friends: My friendships have greatly changed throughout the years. There are only a few people with whom I can claim friendship with for more than 30 years. Most of my current relationships are a few years old, and the ones begun when I first returned to Sonoma County have died back. Many of my friends have come from work, others from LIFEE. Many have moved away to other states. Some of my best friendships have fallen apart completely and had to be let go. I can no longer claim to have a BFF; and because of this, I have had to learn to be my own best friend. It hasn’t been easy, but all of these prior and current friendships have helped me grow to a place where I don’t need “the one.” I miss many and sometimes still mourn the losses, but I wouldn’t give up any of the people who have come and stayed, or gone, from my life.

Kids: Being a mother has been about as hard as being a child, sibling, niece, and friend. My children have helped me feel fulfilled and provided me with opportunities to pick up myself after they knocked me down. They have also given me the option to grow fully into myself as a human being by distancing themselves from me due to them growing up and having their own paths. I loved watching my children grow and I love being a mom of adult children. I also love having an empty nest.

Home: As noted above, I am an empty-nester. I get to be me at home. The furniture is where I want it. I eat what I want. I don’t have to share the television. Everything about my home is about ME. This is the first time in my adult life where my space is truly and only mine. My current home isn’t ideal, but it’s currently perfectly mine—and it feels great.

Car: I’ve had my 2001 Saturn SL2 for over 15 years. I’m Sally’s only owner, I bought her new and she is creeping up to having 300K miles on her. She’s had a lot of work done over the last two years. We’ve been to Tucson and back a few times. Ventura and Mt. Shasta and back even more times. She’s gotten me to the river or lake for kayaking, and out to the coast for beach-combing. I’m not sure I can take her very far anymore, but she still gets me to work and around the County almost every day.

Food: If you don’t already know by now, I LOVE food, especially good food. And living in Sonoma County provides me with some of the best fresh, local produce, meat, seafood, and restaurants to be found. And I always feel abundant when I have food.

Water: The essence of life is water (yes, it’s cliché at this point, but it’s still true). I’m grateful I grew up on Mt. Shasta glacier water and artisan springs, and that I’ve lived in places where I can have well water. I also love to kayak, and without water, I would’t be able to. I’m also fond of regular bathing and cleaning. Thank you, water!

Firewood: This has been an off-and-on gratitude for years. I grew up with wood burning stoves and fireplaces, and now I rely on one for winter warmth. It’s not the ideal heat for the environment, but for my needs, it makes more sense than using a space heater, which uses a lot of electricity (thus energy, which is also harmful to the environment).

Nature: Whether it’s a plant growing up through a crack in the concrete or in a tree stump, groves of trees, fields of flowers, cacti-filled deserts, or hillsides covered in ice plant, I love it all and it continues to amaze me. I also acknowledge that I don’t spend nearly enough time outside of buildings (work and home), when Mother Earth can show off her gallery of delights. This planet of ours is INCREDIBLE and it’s a shame we don’t take better care of it and all the things it provides us with: food; water; clothing; places to swim, kayak, hike, ski, bike, ziplining; air; trees and flowers; animals of all kinds. I have a pretty good idea why Henry David Thoreau lived and wrote about Walden. Why Mary Oliver’s poetry is so beautiful and inspired. Why Terry Tempest Williams wrote so passionately about the National Parks. It makes me wonder why I’m not spending more time spending outside and writing about the wonders of a dandelion.

Free Speech: I love writing, debating, bantering, and conversing. I can’t imagine a world where I couldn’t do any of these. Working for government, I do feel I have to check myself at the office door, and I feel like I spend a little too much time overstepping boundaries. However, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my mouth shut these days. Maybe this is part of how I can contribute. Maybe this is my answer to no longer being able to sit still and do nothing. Maybe it’s time I use my voice more regularly. The United State of America has a lot of problems… free speech isn’t one of them. Now, hate speech is another matter altogether. I don’t love it, but it does provide me with knowing my enemies and the enemies of my loved ones. There is power in that knowing, and allows for the dialogue to continue.

Books: Strongly tied to free speech is books. I started reading at 4 and books have gotten me through life pretty steadily. They educate, entertain, take me to new worlds, inspire me to write and be a better person, tell me how to cook and bake. I can’t fathom a world without books and I don’t know if I’d still be alive without them.

Everything not mentioned: I could go on about technology (I am writing on a laptop, after all), civil rights’ strides, knowledge, education, libraries, art, spirituality, modern conveniences, but I have to stop somewhere. Most people are unlikely to read this far—hell, most people are unlikely to read this at all—and I need to get in the shower. However, there is a lot to be grateful for on this planet, in our daily lives, whether we notice any of it or not. So I try to make everyday thanksgiving—one day a year isn’t enough.

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