This time of year calls us to look at all we have with gratitude. It's why Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the holidays.
My family has some serious holiday traditions, which include gathering 90 of our closest family members and celebrating together. Yep. 90!
Last Thanksgiving, I sat next to my sweet Uncle Chris. Always down for a celebration, he drew a smiley face in the pumpkin pie with his finger and then winked at me as he walked away. He toasted the souls we had lost earlier in the year, and we ate. We ate and we laughed and we cried, and we ate some more.
Four days after Thanksgiving last year, my Uncle, suddenly and unexpectedly, passed away. This compounded the other multitude of losses my family experienced last year (trust when I say it was A LOT.) To say that grief had choked out every last tear as 2012 came to an end, or that 2012 was the suckiest year of my life to date, would be the world's biggest understatement.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I have found myself dreading what is typically my favorite of all holidays. When the gaping hole of loss still feels new, or, at the very least blown open again by memory, it's sometimes hard to think about being grateful. Grief messes all that up. As my big family prepares to gather together again, I can't help but feel like it's incomplete. It is easy to be struck with a feeling of injustice ("It's not fair") or comparison ("THEY have reason to celebrate. Not us") or even guilt ("How can we go on celebrating any of life's joys without ________.")
This thinking, of course, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what my sweet Uncle would encourage and what spiritually, I know to be true.
Flipping my focus to be grateful for all the memories we DID have, all the time we DID spend, all the laughter we DID share is plenty reason for the familiar pop, fizz, clink of celebration. It's not denying the loss, it's commemorating the joy. And of all people, my Uncle Chris embodied this in his days he WAS here.
photo credit: englishwithatwist.com
When we GIVE thanks it means we HAVE something for which to be thankful.
I have pondered this quote a lot in the last couple weeks. What do I have despite great loss?
Here's what: A family who still bands together and loves hard, even when we feel broken. Friends--old and new-- who have come out of the woodwork to support me during a year of hard transition and beautiful triumph. A community that believes in art and giving and growing. A business that allows me to create in love every single day. The ability to help others. The ability to call on others when I need help myself. Reliable transportation. Health. A prayerful meditation practice. And by the grace of God, a warrior spirit.
What will you give thanks for this season?
If you are in Sacramento, stop by 930 Alhambra and write it on our office Gratitude Wall. :) We like that it's the first thing we see when we walk in the door.
Let us join together in gratitude! Life truly is good if we see it that way. Happiest of happy Thanksgiving to you and the ones you love.
This holiday season, we encourage you to support small businesses, whether or not you choose to buy gift through Compliment. By shopping small, you help keep your dollars in your communities supporting economic development and growth in your neighborhoods, towns, states, country. Mark your calendars for November 30, when Americans plan to #shopsmall