No matter where you are in life, or what challenges the universe throws at you, there is always something to be grateful for. And Thanksgiving provides the perfect time to reflect on that, beginning with the food we share and yes, overeat.
I wrote the following four years ago, but never shared it. Though I originally intended to post it on Facebook, it was really just for me to sort out my feelings. I recently found it and have decided it’s still relevant, so I’m sharing it here, instead. In 2015 I lost my brother Richie. In 2016, I came close to losing my husband. In 2017, I lost both parents within months. Now it is 2019, and my husband, our dog and bird are still with me, so my gratitude is way big.
Here’s what I wrote back in 2015:
I’ve been seeing lots of posts about “30 Days of Gratitude” and I think it’s wonderful and inspiring. But it saddens me that we need a Facebook platform to find something to be grateful for every day. I understand that it’s an exercise to stop and smell the roses. But in my opinion, there’s a garden of gratitude in just being alive and free.
I don’t know who decided we needed a 30 day format to express our gratitude, but today is Thanksgiving, so I’ll express it for today, to those who care to read, and then let it be.
Every day, and particularly on this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful to wake up, to open my eyes and see the light of day slowly creeping into my bedroom. To hear my little dog whining to get back up onto the bed. To turn to my husband, and, with a silly voice say, “Little girl wants to get back on the bed.” I’m grateful that she wants him–and not me–to lift her back up on to the bed, where she will then exert her authority over us, because in just six short years she’s got life all figured out. I’m also immeasurably grateful that my little parrot, Arnie, is still with me after 26 years (and counting).
I’m grateful to be able to get out of the bed and walk unescorted to the bathroom, where I am grateful to be afforded the dignity of my privacy. I’m grateful for my toothbrush and toothpaste (as is my husband when we share a morning kiss). I’m grateful for the clean water in the kettle that makes my tea, the hot shower that cleanses me, the clothes that aren’t too raggedy.
I’m grateful for a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast before I leave the house. And I’m grateful that when I arrive back home, intact, unscathed, it’s to a house that welcomes me with warmth in the frigid dead of winter and cools me in the scorching heat of summer. For that matter, I’m grateful for crisp autumn air, and the promise of spring.
More than anything, I’m grateful that sometimes in my head–and sometimes, if I’m lucky, in my dreams–I can hear my mother’s voice: a woman who now lives in an unreachable netherworld, who stares at me blankly through the eyes of Alzheimer’s, her thoughts, feelings, opinions and desires permanently extinguished. But if you can be grateful for Alzheimer’s, then I’m grateful she is unaware she outlived her son Richie. She has been spared the grief of losing a child.
Life is tough. It challenges us to find the meaning in our lives and particularly in our suffering. But every day, in spite of life’s trials and tribulations, I feel grateful for the simple things, which are abundant. I have all five of my senses, and the use of all my limbs and digits, which for starters seems like enough. I don’t need a 30 day Facebook exercise to express that, because, more than anything, I’m grateful for the freedom to be grateful, to express myself every day (or not), on any day (or not), and to live life in accordance with my own beliefs (always).
Every day, on any given day, and all year long, I am free. For me, freedom from so many difficult challenges is reason enough to be grateful, and it is the most important flower in my gratitude garden. Freedom is a precious flower because it has so many fragrances.
I am so grateful for that precious flower.
Before we were able to post this, Lisa lost her brother and Eva lost her Uncle Michael. Two weeks later, I lost my sweet baby bird, Arnie. Which just goes to show, sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. In fact, I was negligent in posting this in November 2019 because of grief. And maybe that’s when you need gratitude the most. To be grateful for those still with us; those that want to give you loving support; those that grieve along side you. Even in despair and grief, there is always a reason to be grateful. This past Thanksgiving was very hard for the Gertz Girlz. But we are all so grateful for so many blessings.
Gertz Girlz Final Dish:
What grows in your Garden of Gratitude? We’d love to know. Among many things, the Gertz Girlz are certainly grateful that you read our humble blog.
We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. We wish you every reason to be grateful and thankful at Thanksgiving and always.