The Turkey is Not the Point

I hate turkey. In fact, my favorite Thanksgiving dinner was in 2011, when I at last decided to break away from tradition and serve my family king crab and oyster chowder.

“When you think about it,” I explained, “shellfish is a very authentic Thanksgiving-ish food, since the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag lived so close to the sea.” Luckily, my kids were totally happy with eating crab, although they thought my oyster chowder tasted like pond sludge. (Oh well…I still thought it was better than turkey).

When it comes down to it, however, it is not about whether one likes or dislikes turkey. Or oyster chowder, for that matter. The point of Thanksgiving is to stop and reflect on our blessings, to express our gratitude, and to share those blessings with those we love. This year, I asked my children to come up with a personal list of three blessings for which they are grateful. (Their response is at the end of this post).

I made a list, as well. It wasn’t exactly easy to do. This year has been somewhat riddled with difficulties. And when you are feeling overwhelmed with obstacles, it can be somewhat challenging to reflect on the good things. But still, I reflected, and here is my list:

  1. Our house, which may be small and old, but it is warm and cozy during the cold nights, and the roof doesn’t leak (much).
  2. My substitute teaching job, which may not be a steady as my old permanent position, but every little bit helps to get the bills paid.
  3. Health! Healthy children who hardly ever get sick, as well as my own remarkably good health this year.
  4. Our opportunities to travel together this year. Though we may lack the resources to travel far, the kids and I have been very fortunate to explore beautiful cities, beaches, and locations up and down the West coast. I am also grateful that my kids are so easy to travel with.
  5. My iPad. I know, I know, this is such a silly, materialistic thing to add. Really, I am not a materialistic person. I do not care about designer brand names, and I am just as happy to read a book from the library as I am to own one. But my iPad has been very important to me…a very practical tool, a source of entertainment, as well as a window to the world for this severe introvert.
  6. Music. Poetry. Literature. Art. The beautiful things that give my spirit wings to soar above the fog of life.
  7. The San Francisco Forty-Niners, who are having another incredible season this year. Also Manchester United FC (that’s soccer, people), Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and the LA Lakers.
  8. Katniss, Buffy, Sydney Bristow, and all those other kick-ass female characters who inspire me to be stronger than I think I can be.
  9. Rainy days, scented candles, hot cups of tea, and cozy blankets to cuddle in.
  10. Humor. Laughter, to me, is the best medicine, and can pretty much cure and prevent any affliction.

Well, technically it is still (Everything-but)Turkey Day for another 20 minutes. So, wherever in the world you may be, readers, take a few moments to reflect on your blessings, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

What Are You Thankful For? from Tiare75 on Vimeo.

 

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10 Wonderful Things That Make Me Say “Ahhh!”

It is so easy to come up with things to complain about in life. My house is too small. My hair refuses to grow past my shoulders. I don’t have enough friends. The weather is too hot/too cold/too windy/not rainy enough. Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed by these negative thoughts, it feels as though I am suffocating under all the weight. So how do I turn my thoughts in the opposite direction? Well, Oprah Winfrey was a big advocate of keeping a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be a big thing…just a few minutes per day of jotting down our appreciation for the people and things for whom we our grateful, those things which brighten our days and make life worth living.

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.”~Oprah Winfrey

So I decided to try it. In fact, I gave myself a goal: can I come up with 10 things and people for whom I feel grateful? Can I think of 10 things that add value to my life and joy to my days? This is what I came up with:

1. My Three Kids  Totally cliché, I know, but I don’t care. My kids are healthy, smart, kind, thoughtful, resilient, talented, and creative, and I love the heck out of all three.

My Three Terrific Kids

2. My Small House — Small = cozy rooms and less cleaning to do. Plus, our little house is cute and homey, since I have spent the past 13 years painting walls, hanging pictures, sewing curtains, and doing everything I can to make it so.

3. Birds that wake me in the morning with their birdsong

4. Rainy Weather Unless I am camping. Then again, maybe even while camping.

5. Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, Harper Lee, Pablo Neruda, John Steinbeck, Anton Chekov, Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, Mario Benedetti, and Jane Austen.

6. Avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, red onions, and jalapeños. Especially when combined together.

7. My Job (teaching young children from low-income families)

8. My Muse

9. Perfect cups of tea, chai, and coffee

I just bought myself this gorgeous mug yesterday to cheer myself up. It totally worked, too, especially when I was able to enjoy a perfect cup of chai from it.

10. Twitter  I am fascinated by the glances into the lives and thoughts of millions of people around the world. I love sharing sports and news stories and television shows with total strangers. And whenever I need a quick laugh, I can usually count on some ridiculous and clever trending tweet, like #ReplaceMovieTitlesWithBacon, or #GhettoCrayonColors, to make me laugh and set my thoughts in a positive direction.

The more I focus on the things for which I feel grateful, the easier it becomes to recognize the blessings that life has to offer. Music! Gerbera Daisies! Fuji Apple Pear Sobe Lifewater! Sushi! Maybe next time, I will increase my list to 25. This gratitude journal thing is, so far, pretty positive.