I’m wearing a cozy sweater and puffy vest right now and taking in delightfully crisp weather on this Thanksgiving Day. My view entails a multitude of fall colors in the trees and those leaves already fallen, the light reflecting off the lake with shades of moss green from the depth, along with a faint whiff of firewood burning (or maybe that’s my own clothing that’s oozing of it from the last couple days of campfire smoke). A family reunion of sorts is occurring this Thanksgiving Day and I am with some of my most favorite people in the whole wide world. Cool weather makes everything feel a little better. Cozy sweaters, wool socks, puffy vests, pumpkin pie cooling…these are indeed a few of my favorite things.
It doesn’t mean that I feel pure joy in every moment of this season, but rather that I feel moments of immense joy that spur me on towards the next moment and the one after that. With influencers pushing the magic of the pumpkin spice that make things appear practically perfect, sometimes it can feel like we’re doing something wrong; like we should be jumping in piles of leaves without a care in the world. Life doesn’t stop for us though. Thankfully, we can practice gratitude and often be surprised by how helpful that can be to encourage us to move through the ups and downs. The author/artist Ruth Cho Simons reminded me today on Instagram of this truth. She said, “Tell your soul what to do. Rehearse what to do, not just what you feel.” This doesn’t say “slap on a fake smile” to me, but rather be gentle and simply practice (it’s become my favorite phrase in working towards health) gratitude. I shared her post to my page just in case I had friends that needed to hear it, too. You can feel both: the icky and the delightful. It’s a gift to recognize that it’s ok to do so.
My gratitude bucket overflowed this week. I certainly had grumpy, tired, dog-barfing, disposal clogging, dead dad sadness, and constipation woes, too, but the cozy moments were dabbled enough in between. I’m thankful for the family we spent time with this past week, from a camping trip to a lakeside family slumber party. I’m thankful for the bright green patches of grass poking up from under a thick layer of brown and gold crisp leaves. I’m thankful for the remains of a charcoaled fire pit that brought silly jokes, belly laughs and plans for future gatherings of cousins. I’m thankful for the boat dock that held a dozen family members snuggled and relaxing, a wirey-haired puppy dog, and chilly fingertips being periodically warmed by the sun.
I’m deeply grateful for my Auntie who speaks words of life to me. She whispers in my ear as she hugs and they are things I didn’t know I desperately needed to hear. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to finally meet a long-lost cousin and see him meld in with us almost as though we’ve always known him. I’m thankful for the hope of future reunification of family members. I’m thankful for the comfort of my mother, especially as I feel the permanency of losing my Dad, and that she lives close to me so I can regularly know that comfort. I’m thankful for my step-Dad, that has smoothly moved into the role as one of my children’s grandfathers. I’m thankful for the mix of conversation, both silly and reflective, that I have with my cousins and wish I had hours more. I’m thankful for my little brother, especially as I hear him in conversation across the room refer to me as his sister, because it makes me feel the sacredness of that title and reminds me of how glad I am that we have each other. I’m thankful for my beautiful sister-in-law and her peaceful nature that oozes out when around her.
Even though I’ve spent a great deal of time in very close quarters to my immediate people and worked through whining, dirty socks and stinky toots, I’m feeling cozy gratitude for the opportunity to love them. I’m delightfully exhausted from this weeklong trip, but also ready for the Christmas season that has now begun. I’m ready to welcome in the stressful moments, frustrating disappointments when I’ve let my expectations get the best of me, and will look for and practice carrying a spirit of joy, whether I feel like it or not. Will you join me?