Today in the United States we celebrate a national holiday called Thanksgiving. It’s a day to stop and remember to be grateful – grateful as a nation for our freedoms, and grateful as individuals. There’s been A LOT of debate about that “national” part of it recently, with hysteria in some circles over refugees, but other than asserting that our national history dictates we MUST welcome refugees, I don’t want to talk about that now. (Just wanted you to know where I stood.)
In this space, right now, I would like to share the things for which I am thankful. It’s an important thing to do once in a while, because if we aren’t conscious about naming the things we’re thankful for, we can either 1) forget, or 2) take them for granted. Naming those things helps keep us grounded, and in the chaotic world in which we live that is certainly important.
I am thankful for my ever-patient husband. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year. As with any couple who have been together that long, we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve had bumpy patches – we still do. There are days we don’t like each other very much; days where conversation is strained; days where marriage feels HEAVY. I am not an easy person to live with – I require too much time alone, I keep too much to myself. I am SO thankful that he accepts me, and pushes me out of my solitude (even when I push back). He loves me, and that tells you A LOT about his character. I’m a lucky woman.
I am thankful for my older daughter, now sixteen. She is pushing way too many buttons for me to even mention here. She reminds me of myself, yet she is a person I never was. I am struggling mightily right now (along with my husband) to strike the balance between protecting her (from others and herself) and giving her the freedom to be herself and even to make mistakes from which to learn. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope with no net. It’s more frightening than I ever could’ve imagined. As she gets closer to legal independence the more serious this tightrope walk gets. Dang. But she is AMAZING. She is forging her own path, making her own way. She is smart, funny, loyal, passionate, and she is (and will be) a tremendous gift to the world.
I am thankful for my younger daughter, who next month will officially become a teenager. With her autism she has overcome in her almost thirteen years more than some people have been through in a lifetime. She works SO hard everyday. Her teachers and my husband and I have worked SO hard with her. And that hard work is paying off. A few months ago she made the leap from an autism focused program, to a district special education classroom! We are all so proud of her. She is friendly and cheerful, wanting to make connections with people. She wants to be a teacher or a fashion designer. I’m not sure if either of those things will/can happen, but whatever she does she brings light with her.
I am thankful for my son, nine. He still loves to hug his mama. He still loves to cuddle. Although he can very well go to sleep by himself, he still likes me to sit with him while he does – and I don’t mind. He draws better at nine than I do at almost 50! He has his struggles being at the end of the “child” line in the house. He has his struggles being a boy that likes to play with dolls (shhh… don’t tell his friends). He is smart, sensitive, creative and energetic and I can’t wait to see how he continues to grow.
I am thankful for my online community, which includes all of you who read this. Those of you who follow me through WordPress or on Twitter have given me a life-giving creative and supportive outlet for all my musings. The various camps I hop between: autism, parenthood, mental health, and faith have been true lifesavers – keeping me from feeling isolated and alone – and not just alone but from the feeling like I am in the only one in world going through some of this stuff! I am so incredibly thankful for you – you really have no idea…
I am thankful for the people in my past – the ones who held me and even the ones who hurt me. They are all part of the person I am today, and for the most part I like myself. I am thankful for the people in my present. I am thankful for the country in which I live. It is most certainly not perfect, and right now my level of frustration if pretty high. I know that there are people within our borders who do not have the same level of freedom I do, even if we claim it on paper. I know there are people who have even more freedom than me. I promise to do everything I can to point out the flaws when I see them, and celebrate the successes when we have them.
I am thankful first of all, most of all, for my faith. I can’t put it neatly into one paragraph, but without faith, the family above never would’ve come into being. My faith grounds me, keeps me humble, lifts me up, pushes me, gives me strength. Faith is the beginning of the person I am and the person I am becoming – a journey not a destination.
Enough about me. What are you thankful for today – and why? May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And for those who struggle with these family related holidays – remember family isn’t just blood. Family is the people who love you and look out for you and push you and protect you and laugh with you and cry with you. (just my 2 cents…)