Most people post gratitude-inspiring messages before Thanksgiving. But I’ve been much too preoccupied with my mounting and all-important list of things to do. I had a goal for the weekend and I wouldn’t let anything get in my way. After digesting our take-out dinner from Cracker Barrel (yes, really!), I planned to knuckle down and work on my final project for my final class, before the turkey even got cold. Thanksgiving was to take a back seat to school work this holiday.
I let other stuff obstruct my vision from what really matters. Thanks to two people and two simple sentences, it all came into focus for me over the weekend.
A friend who is preparing to say good-bye to her husband of sixty years, said this:
“I’m thankful to hear him snore.”
I appreciate a lot of qualities about my husband, but snoring is not one of them. And yet my friend is thankful for the smallest thing. However waning, she clings to any sign of life coming from her beloved. As she looks ahead to life without him, every little thing grows in significance. A breath. A snore. Eyes that are open.
If I look at small things through a different lens, turning it like a prism so the light reflects from another angle, I can see that much of what I grumble about is actually a blessing. While the significance of those little things deepens, my irritability over those same things lessens. People who have lost what tends to frustrate me know how precious, and fleeting, it really is. They have come to learn what those things represent.
I want to appreciate the true worth of the smallest things while I can. While I still have them. Because you never know how long that will be.
At my own Thanksgiving table, we all said the traditional One Thing We’re Thankful For. My eyes were turned on myself. I said I’m thankful that I’m nearly finished with this master’s degree. And I meant it.
But then my husband’s turn came last. He looked at my aging parents.
“I’m thankful you’re here.”
He went on to say that it’s been 26 years since his mother died, and because of my Mom and Dad, he has had parents again. And he’s grateful to God for that gift.
Most people merely tolerate their in-laws. But Steve is thankful for his. It isn’t a small thing to him to have a second chance at parents.
Through misted-over eyes, I started to see clearly. Sometimes I take my own parents for granted. They’ve been a constant in my life my whole life. And yet I know some day I won’t be able to say that. I need to appreciate them while I can.
This Thanksgiving, I learned that what I have is a lot.
And I’m grateful. Finally, I’m grateful.