Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No commercialism, no pressure, no hoops to jump through. You choose the people you want to be with and sit down with them for a good meal and reflect on the blessings in your life. It’s simple and relaxing and when it’s over you don’t have to rearrange your kids’ bedrooms to fit in all the new stuff they really didn’t need.
I make it a point each Thanksgiving to really think about the things I’m thankful for, and to share some of those things both here and with the people in my life. As usual, there are many. But this year, I’m feeling most thankful for my worldview.
See, in the past few weeks I’ve lost (for different reasons a few days apart) a major source of income and my medical insurance. I also ended a very significant relationship. Oh, and when I set out to cook Thanksgiving dinner, I had a problem with my stove that should have been an easy fix but ended up with Tori and I sitting on the porch in a very cold rain waiting for the gas company.
But I’m feeling good. If you only know me through this blog or you’ve only known me for a few years, it probably won’t be immediately obvious what a big deal that is. Because you probably don’t know—you probably can’t even imagine—that between the ages of 13 and 27, I was suicidal at least as often as not. I even made a half-hearted attempt in law school, washing down pills with a bottle of wine in front of the television. I was spacing them out to make sure I didn’t throw up, and my life was saved for the stupidest and tritest of all reasons (talk about things to be thankful for!): I got caught up in an episode of LA Law and stopped taking the pills because I didn’t want to pass out before I saw how it ended.
In one of those ironic but beautiful twists that life brings us, a stalker who came just a little too close to killing me saved my life. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder saved my life. How those catastrophic events healed my life is another story for another day, but I often say (in complete sincerity) that having my life threatened, losing my business and having to flee the state to save my life is the best thing that ever happened to me. Much to my surprise, it freed me to be happy.
So today, as always in recent years, I am thankful for many things. I’m thankful for my children and grandchildren, for my amazing friends, for the way that writing transports me and for the flexibility of the past few years (even if it turns out that it’s time to venture back into the workday world). But mostly, I’m thankful that the challenges that have arisen in the past few weeks don’t affect my ability to laugh with my daughter, to love my life, to take positive action where I can and to smile automatically when I walk out the door in the morning and see the sun. Or, you know, a nice clean, cold rain.
That’s the greatest gift, I’m convinced. No life is entirely smooth, but if you can be happy in the midst of challenges, you have everything.