November 28, 2014

Counting Thankfuls

Family time around the fire pit. 


Let me be thankful.
Thankful.
Like, really thankful.
Eyes squeezed shut, tongue sticking out a little, thankful.

What am I thankful for?

God, family, friends, and food. The classic G3F's. The important Thanksgiving rituals.
God, family, friends, and food. Repeat. I am thankful. Thankful.

Come on, Mandy, remember to be thankful.

Coughing. Hacking. Laughing. So very, very sacrilegious. The Thanksgiving pilgrims would be ashamed at my lack of Thanksgiving. It's just all so, covered in "Happy Fall Ya'll" banners and decorated with mason jars. Pumpkins and pilgrims and I can guarantee that those turkeys made out of brightly colored paper look nothing like the real deal right before the real deal becomes a meal.

I'm thankful. I really am. I'm thankful for the G3F's. God, family, friends, and food. I'm just...over-stimulated and over-fed. Desiring a detox almost as much as another piece of pumpkin pie. Pass the seconds, if I can't learn how to do a cleanse, at least I'll eat till my little heart goes out on me.

I hope, in some small way, you're catching on to my sarcasm. Even more importantly, I hope you're catching onto the small, thin, scraped too scarce layer of truth I feel in my heart.

There's too much food in my life, too many distractions, too many Instagram pictures blowing up my newsfeed for me to feel really and truly connected to the feelings of thankfulness instead of the emotions of Thanksgiving.

Today was a very unique Thanksgiving in my corner of the world. My handsome man flew off to Arizona to be with his dad for the weekend, my sister and her handsome man are spending one last day in Colorado before their big move (yipee!), and my grandma opted out of a get-together today in favor of one on Saturday. With a happy heart I drove the two hours to my parent's house, listening to music I haven't listened to since my freshman year of college, and I played the student card once more. Complete with a laundry basket full of dirty clothes.

Some things might never change.

With laughing hearts, we hopped over to my dad's hospital while he made a few rounds to wish his employees a happy Thanksgiving, and we ate the feast that the cafeteria staff prepared. While this may sound absolutely terrible to some people, it was an amazing experience. Not because I felt like we were doing good gracing the hospital employees with our presence, but because we had an absolutely delicious meal prepared for us, and we didn't have to cook or clean a single dish. All in all, the infamous Thanksgiving dinner took 30 minutes from start to finish. I was totally, 100%, okay with our lunch situation.

However wonderful our lunch event may have been, it was not very traditional. Neither was our afternoon, which was not spent playing football or watching (much) football or anything to that extent. Instead, the three of us played a few vicious rounds of Candy Land and then promptly fell asleep on the floor. It's been a long week (/year), and a nap is a beautiful cure for all ails.

And then...here I sit. Typing away and trying to compose some sort of aura of thankfulness to fit in with what everyone else is saying. I am thankful for so many things, truly, but my parents know how much I love them and my husband gets enough sappy text messages when he's away to know that he is indeed, missed. My level of appreciation for the people in my life goes beyond one day or one emotion to be summed up so quaintly in a, "You rock!" sort of thank-you card.

So, with scattered thoughts, here are the things I am truly thankful for in the here and now:

1. I am thankful for hard moments. The moments that make you catch your breath and whisper, "Don't cry don't cry don't cry." I am thankful for the intense pain that reminds you that you are, indeed, alive. Even more so, I am thankful for the people who surround you in these moments and remind you that despite pain, it is good to be alive.

2. I am thankful for hearts that break. To have a heart that can still be broken when I hear about children starving or growing up as orphans, to have a heart that weeps when incarcerated men and women die alone, to have a heart that feels another's pain as easily as if it were their own...that is to know that your heart still works the way it was intended to work. May we never grow so callous, so cold, and so guarded as to have hearts that will not break.

3. I am thankful for friends that challenge me. You know the types, the difficult to love friends. The friends that never seem to love you quite as much as you love them but you just can't give up. I am so thankful for these people. They remind me that friendship takes effort and it is never free. It costs time, emotional involvement, and vulnerability. It can cause pain, heartache, and sometimes it just doesn't feel worth the investment. But these friends, the hard to love friends, are so beautiful and so worth loving. I am truly thankful for them.

With a different sort of heart this Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful for the things that have been difficult to deal with this year. Hard moments, hard friends, and hearts that are able to break. Truly, these things, difficult though they may be, have opened the doors to enrichment in my life, and for that I am indeed indebted to their existence.

I suppose, in some sort of fractured closure, I should also mention that I thankful for the silly pets we allow our hearts to love. Like our sweet Sammy dog, who never caught a rabbit no matter how many she chased, but was very content to keep trying. It's always hard to come home to a childhood house without a childhood dog to greet you at the door, but silly pets like these are worth all the sad emotions and more. Cheers, little Sam.