"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good."
- Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Although this has been quite a year for all of us, and I don't have to name the many reasons why; they'll forever be imprinted in our minds and in the history books; it is still a day that should be filled with gratitude as we gather with our loved ones, even if our gathering is smaller than it ever was before, or is virtually. For despite the disheartening events that have changed the course of our lives as we once knew it, we do have many reasons to give thanks as we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day.
First and foremost, one reason is that you have managed to rise each day, putting on your armor to face the elements, both external and internal, to live not just a semblance of life but your best, most purposeful, productive life, for yourself, your family, and as a writer.
Secondly, you have been courageous, creative, generous in deeds and words, and resolute about creating normalcy in a world so unnormal. And careerwise, you may have had days when you didn't feel like writing or submitting, but you did write and submit, and will continue to. There were days when you felt as if your wings, once so ready to soar, were broken, but your boundless spirit prevailed, and that indeed is something to be grateful for.
Today I hope you reflect on these and the many other reasons to be grateful, just as I will. Reflect on those blessings, small as a grain of sand, and big as a mountain (those unexpected miracles that came just when you wanted to give up or were overly stressed about an issue) to inspire you. This day and each day afterwards, look at your life through a new viewfinder and focus on the awe still around you, in your community, and in the world. It's still there. So open your arms wide and let gratitude wrap around you like a patchwork quilt as you enjoy this Thanksgiving Day, your family, and all the eggnog you can drink.
In the meantime, here are a few reasons why I am grateful this Thanksgiving. Please don't hesitate to share your own.
It may sound juvenile, like what a child would say when a teacher asks what he or she is thankful for as they make handprint turkeys, but I'm thankful for eyes that see, ears that hear, a mouth that can talk, eat savor delicious food, and sing a bit off-key, hands that can feel and hug, and feet that can carry my body from place to place.
I'm thankful for the ability to write and tell stories but also for the joy and passion I have when I write. I'm thankful my writing can touch people and even change the minds and hearts of some people.
I'm thankful for my family and friends. They love me fervently with all of my imperfections, as I do them. They see me, they hear me, they cry with me, they laugh with me, they dance with me, they teach me, they pray with and for me, they encourage me, they are the biggest fans of my writing and my brightest stars.
I'm thankful that my family and I can give to those who are less fortunate and in crisis especially now because of this Pandemic. I'm thankful to my parents for instilling a spirit of giving in me as a child, and my husband's parents in him as a child, that we passed on to our children so the circle of making a difference in the world is continual.
I'm thankful for release. These last few months have helped me release things that have burdened me. It has caused me to release habits that led to me being less productive as a writer, to release thoughts that were too critical, and even certain people, while wishing them well, as I shift into a more optimistic mindset. It has been liberating to let go of what once held me captive, so I'm thankful for the power of release.
I'm thankful for great memories. During this new normal, I've gathered my sweetest memories from childhood to present, that were in my emotional treasure chest, to reflect on and sit with for a while. Sometimes those memories became stories I submitted, fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes those memories landed in my journal for my eyes only.
Last but not least, I'm thankful for a jambalaya of things in no special order. Literature, art, music, nature, essential workers, cute puppies, cuter kittens, comedy shows, laughter, genuine healing conversations, documentaries, the great community of WOW writers, and so much more.
Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer who has had her writing published in several magazines, blogs and anthologies, including, Chicken Soup For The Soul. She tries to live each day with a heart filled with gratitude.