Food and shelter. Family and friends. Good schools and teachers. I’ve been grateful for them every year as long as I can remember. This year, I am thankful for much more.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that none of my family members are in the hospital. No one is eating their Thanksgiving feast off a white tray while others take turns visiting. No one is disconnected from the big family meal because her heart is too connected to the hospital room and the child who is stuck there.
This Thanksgiving, no one is waiting for test results or surgery.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that none of us are following a medically prescribed diet. No one is reading ingredients in someone else’s kitchen, saying “excuse me, but what’s in that sauce?” No one is unpacking small, carefully-labeled plastic containers that hold a facsimile of Thanksgiving dinner, subtly resting her arms over her plate as “dangerous” food is passed over it on its way around the table.
This Thanksgiving, no one is on edge because of ingredients or cross-contamination.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that my marriage is intact. My husband and I did not break under the pressure of our daughter’s medical dramas. We did not stop talking about our own feelings and dreams when we became stewards of the feelings and dreams of our children. We have not stopped liking each other.
This Thanksgiving, no one has fallen out of love.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that my family is alive. My daughter did not die in the surgery that changed her life eighteen months ago; my parents are here and active; my husband and my older daughter have not been taken in a car or plane crash; I have survived every bike ride and run I’ve enjoyed.
This Thanksgiving, no one new is missing.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the ways our bodies work. No one is struggling to help prepare the meal with arms in slings or missing. No one is pushing a walker to the table. No one is swallowing their food into a kinked esophagus, or skipping the meal while being fed formula through a tube.
This Thanksgiving, no one has lost an ability we take for granted.
This Thanksgiving, I know that had any of these blessings been missing, we would have still been grateful for the others that remained. It would still be a holiday. There would still be joy, celebration, moments of grace. I know that to be true as well as I know that there is no end to the blessings I can hold up and say thank you, universe. Thank you for protecting us from these things which threaten to chip away at our happiness.
Thank you, universe, for the elegance of the human body, for human life and community, for love and endurance, for a bounty of ways in which we can nourish ourselves, for those who care for our hearts, and for the ability to recognize our gifts.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful.