Many have fractured families and are reminded of hurt, rejection or loss. Others are far from their loved ones and may feel isolated and alone. For those who are with their loved ones, there is often closeness and warmth, but often there may be tension within families creating a stressful situation.
I get busy this time of year. My clients often discuss ways to deal with the situations the holidays bring. In relation to Thanksgiving, I more often than not, steer them all in the same direction. My Great Aunt, who is now 100 years-old, said something to me that has motivated me for years: “There is always something to be thankful for. Some days you might have to look harder than others, but if you keep looking you will find it!”
We can focus on the negative and feel sorry for ourselves and we are probably justified in doing so. None the less, will that bring us peace? I would say not. To focus on what is good may be difficult. To be thankful for what we have, rather than bitter about what we do not, is also not an easy task. To do so we must put forth the effort to be purposeful.
This is my first holiday season in 30 years that I will be alone. After two long-term relationships I am single, and quite frankly I would not mind if I woke up tomorrow and it was the new-year. I get into funks and lament the fact that I will be going to parties and gatherings alone. I will be surrounded by happy couples who will leave and return to their homes together. If I let myself, I can move toward a rather deep resentment for what they have and what I do not.
To explain what I mean about being purposeful, and following my wise aunt’s advice, I have to force myself to get out of my emotions and into my head:
What do I have?
In what ways am I fortunate?
What can I learn from my situations?
When I do so, reality hits. I may be single and feel alone, but I am not alone. I have wonderful friends and family who are there to support and encourage me. I have children who love and respect me. I have a home and a job I love and use of all of my faculties. Aunt Rose used this example when sharing this truth with me prior to her husbands passing. “You know, he is having some trouble getting around. The other day I had to help him wipe his butt because he couldn’t do it. I thought to myself, I can still wipe my own butt! See! Something to be thankful for!”
I laugh every time I remember that story, but I also think of how profound that truth is. There is always something to be thankful for if I look hard enough and choose to see it! If I want to see it I can’t be in a victim stance. I can’t ignore things because I may not be getting what I want. I have to purpose to look honestly at the world around me and accept the good that is mine!
So this Thanksgiving find the good. Grab on to it and thank God for what you have, rather than lamenting what you do not!