Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giving Thanks

I whined and moaned about being away from family for the holidays, and I gave you some reading material to keep you busy and content while I was away, but I never took the time to formally tell you that for which I am THANKFUL. That's what Thanksgiving is about, right? It is for me, anyways. Sure, it's a holiday that includes getting together with loved ones and eating a feast unlike most others, but it's also a time to take a quiet moment and reflect on our lives and our blessings.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the many people and things that make me pause and give THANKS.

My daughters are awesome, incredible, amazing gifts that I cherish daily in my life. I really don't even know who I'd be without them. I don't know what my days would look like or what I'd be doing right now. It's a whirlwind existence sometimes, but one smile or laugh can brighten the darkest day. We were lying all together in bed one of the weekend evenings, and as they were closing their eyes for a (hopefully) peaceful slumber, I got that ever familiar lump in my throat. When people say there is no love like that of your children, I believe that to be 100% true. I would step in front of a moving vehicle for them. I would shelter them in any storm. I stand strong so that they are proud and fierce women themselves. I try to model behaviours and choices that show integrity. Almost everything I do, is for them. I am thankful for them not just when they are behaving, but for every second of this rollercoaster of parenting. I'm thankful for every moment spent with them and every new emotion and lesson I learn from them on a daily basis. They've made me a better person, and continue to push me further.

My friends are wonderful, witty, smart, insightful people. They make me laugh constantly. They hold my hand when I'm scared or unsure. They push me to do things that involve change and growth. They don't judge, but they don't hold back opinions either. They kick me in the pants when I need kicking. They love me for me, mistakes and ugly times included. I'm a truly lucky woman because I have a large circle of women that make up my life story. They are all different individuals from different walks of life. They hold different political, religious and social opinions. They have different accents and life choices. But they all surround me with those differences and I can feel their strength in that embrace. My friends are my lifeline when everything else has gone to pot. There have been many a moment in my life where I'm pretty sure I would have been more lost without one of them or all of them pulling me back into the fold. Thankful? You bet.

My extended family members are my history and have helped to form who I am today. When all else fails and there's nobody around me when I've screwed up, my family is there to call me a knucklehead and help me out. Some of the relationships within that family have faltered or waned, while others have grown and blossomed. Either way, family is the root of our life story. My siblings have seen me at my worst and have lived through some pretty trying times with me. We share a tale that's almost too tall to be true. No matter where life takes us or how we may change looks or status, at the core of it all, there's still the three of us as we've always been. My Mom is at the centre of that family. As most daughters know, I've moved away from her and back again. I've distanced myself and then come full circle. The dance with our Mothers is always a bit complicated, but without her love and her lessons, I wouldn't BE. I have a self-esteem that is very strong, and frankly shouldn't be, because of whatever it is that she did to instill that in me. When I look at attributes and life experiences that matter to me, they are all things that my Mom taught me to seek and demand for myself. No relationships are ever perfect, and families especially struggle to find harmony and peace, but my love for my family knows no bounds or limits. I'm thankful for growing up, and continuing to do so, with them by my side.

It can't go without saying that I'm thankful for my health, and the health of those around me. So many are fighting and battling and I know it could be me or my loved ones, disease doesn't pick and choose and we are no more or less special than anybody else. Yes, we've been lucky. I am thankful we have good food and clean air and water. I am thankful we have access to good health care and medicine. Hand in hand with that comes the thanks of a warm home and jobs that afford us basics and luxuries alike. I don't take being healthy or having employment for granted and I'm thankful to have a "new day," everyday.

My husband has been in my life since I was 19 years old. Do the math and that's 17 years. As the times have gone by, I thought we had this whole marriage and commitment thing down pat. When you're young, you think you have all of the pieces of the puzzle and all of the answers to the big questions. Love seems to be a fairy tale of romance and happily ever after. But reality has other ideas. There are real life obstacles to tackle. There are jobs that are lost and births that almost cost you everything you hold dear. There is a whole world of navigation that needs to take place regarding your baggage mixed with his baggage. There are times when one of you seems to be doing all of the holding up, while the other is floundering around a little lost and helpless. Mistakes are made and tempers explode and wane. At some points, you question if you can EVER truly know another person. They question if they know you. Marriage is not simple. Love isn't always easy. However, like a slideshow of my life, every image I see is of he and I. We didn't promise to only love each other when it was easy. We promised to love each other through it all, the good and the bad. As we age, we hope that our partnerships have matured and moved past attraction (though that chemistry is always nice!) and into a real deep companionship of understanding and honesty. When the kids were younger, sometimes my husband would screw up and do something that I couldn't understand. My daughters would inadvertently get hurt or something would get forgotten. It would have been easy to sneer or poke fun or ridicule him for screwing up. Instead, I tried to remind myself that if "I" did that to him now, it would come back to me in the end. At some point, it's a given, I too would screw up in some way. How would "I" want him to respond? And I think that's a good lesson in general. We aren't princes and princesses in fairy tales where nothing ever goes wrong. This is life, and it gets ugly. I like to think that every struggle and misstep takes us that much closer to true acceptance of each other and a deeper love. I am thankful to have a husband who has walked every step of this journey with me and has seen me not only at my best, but at my worst -and loved me through the ugliest parts. I am thankful that we continue to be strong examples to our daughters and blessed to have a partner that is willing to be accountable and present. Our love isn't perfect. Yet, as time passes and I look around at others, I'm right with the person I want to be with, still. I'm thankful to have experienced that type of love in my lifetime and I hope to be thankful 50 years from now for a love that grew stronger and more unbreakable with each passing moment. I honestly feel like if anyone can do it, we will. I am thankful for this type of love:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

The truth of the matter is, I have so much to be grateful for in my life that this blog could go on all day. And that in and of itself, is something for which to be eternally thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your blessings are as abundant as mine.

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