Here in Canada, Thanksgiving falls on October 9th this year. A date which is rapidly approaching and I find myself calculating what more needs to be bought for dinner and when I have to pull the turkey out to thaw.
Turkey dinner is all fine and (usually very) good, but the point of Thanksgiving is to pause and express gratitude for the harvest (originally) and all the things we have. A time to stop and take stock of how much we really have in our lives.
Gratitude has become one of those words. Overused, too often to try to sell some service or thing. And when a word becomes one of those, it’s actual meaning seems to get lost in the buzz.
Because Gratitude is actually very important, provided it is combined with sincerity. It’s easy to say (or post) that you’re grateful for something or someone or some event. But are you actually feeling it? Are you really grateful for what you claim to be? Or are you merely caught up in the latest self-help trend?
What we are sincerely grateful for we are far less likely to take for granted. We’re more likely to remember to acknowledge its affect on our lives.
I know some things (people, events) are hard to feel true gratitude for. Blessings do come in some really obnoxious/unpleasant/upsetting disguises. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing the best we can now and finding the sincere gratitude in hindsight.
What are you sincerely grateful for in your life?
For myself, I’m incredibly thankful for my husband and all the ways he supports me and my work; for our beautiful, active, strong willed daughter; for my high strung fuzzball of a Bandit kitty; for all the resources I have to draw on to build my life and business; and for Life in Jesus Christ.
I didn’t post last week because I spent last Thursday on the road, doing the approximately ten hour drive required to get from home to the Okanagan. Because, last Saturday, there was a party to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. And because it’s been nearly two years since I was last able to see most of that side of my family. Fortunately, the wildfires plaguing British Columbia this year weren’t an issue along the route we took.
Being down there, seeing family I haven’t seen in a while, learning things I never knew about my family’s history, visiting with family and old family friends… I wish I had more opportunity than it feels like I have now. I hate living so far away from them. Most of them don’t text or Skype. Telephone is hard for me, for several reasons. If we could see any clear way to do so, we would happily move closer to them.
When I was growing up, family and family history were all around me. Vacations were used to visit relatives and attend family reunions. Family stories were brought up all the time. I wish I could remember more of the stories I have heard. I wish I could’ve heard more from the people these things happened to. I’ve lost four of the six grandparents I knew as a child. The other two are into their 80s and not in the best of health, which was partly why the summer celebration of an anniversary which actually falls between Christmas and New Years.
Heritage is such a huge part of personal identity. Family and family history often serve as a tether… a place to go back to when life gets too overwhelming. It’s what we build on, whether better or worse, when we create our own lives and stories. It influences our perception of ourselves. It influences how we relate to all kinds of aspects of our lives.
I watch my daughter grow and learn and I wonder what she’s learning about the meaning and history of family. She’s grown up surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles (biological and named) and she’s hearing some of the stories, whether she understands them now or not. I think about what I would like her to learn, how to pass values to her, what she will think of it all once she’s old enough to seriously consider what she thinks of it all.
How do I tell my daughter what my life has been like and how it influences the way I’m raising her?
How do I tell my daughter all the things I would like her to know about family and life and her options for the future?
What will my legacy to my daughter be?
I’m both looking forward to and dreading this weekend. Three days of family gathering sandwiched between two very long days of travel.
This has been an annual trip for several years now and normally it’s an eight to ten hour drive. Not for me this year. This year I’ve been told I’m going on a detour which will add as much as six hours of travel in a black car without air conditioning. My daughter will be traveling a shorter route with her grandparents and I may not see her until the next day, depending how things go.
I look forward to these trips because it’s a chance to see some family who live on the far side of the country, who I wouldn’t otherwise see. And who I like the chance to catch up with.
I dread these trips because I have to deal with a side of the family where expectations of ‘proper’ behaviour are high and tolerance for any deviation from those expectations is almost non-existent. This is the ‘Christian’ side of my family.