As most people do at Thanksgiving, I've been thinking a lot about what I'm most thankful for. In the midst of shopping for the perfect presents, worrying about bills, and hoping that next year we'll have less house and car repairs to pay for (I know, not likely) - I took some time yesterday to really reflect on all the little things I am thankful for minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.
All year long, I've had my son helping me pick out presents for a local shelter. It's now to the point that he asks me, each time we pick up a present, "Mom, we should get something for the kid's gift bin at home." I am so thankful for such a kind-hearted child. It makes me so proud that he recognizes there are kids with greater needs, and is open to sharing with them instead of simply picking out things he wants constantly. Now we're working on the fact that these kids also need clothes and other items - I don't think it quite registers to him yet that people would need clothing, and I think that's okay because I don't want him worried constantly about whether that could be him, but I know he'll understand and do his best in the coming years to give back in honor of all he has received in his life.
I actually went to the mall yesterday, to try and pick out something I might want for Christmas. My husband and I don't exchange big gifts - just something small, so the kids see that we give each other something to recognize the other one. It's important to us that our kids see it's not about how expensive a present is, but about what it means personally to someone else. That's why I usually like a book or photoalbum to use. But yesterday, I could not find anything at all that I wanted - and after a bit of thought, I realized, that's actually a pretty wonderful thing! How often in life can we actually sit here and say, "I have enough of this and this and this, and there is not one thing I really want?" It was a pretty awesome feeling to realize how much I really have already in my life.
I am so thankful for so many things, from waking up in the morning, to my kids (screaming or well-behaved), to my family and friends. But what I'm most thankful for is that we have a house, food, jobs, and family and friends - all of the basic needs covered, because there are so many who don't. Just in our area, one shelter was putting together baskets for 600 families for Thanksgiving - 600 FAMILIES! It's shocking to me, and a real wake up call, that when we have so much to be grateful for, it's so important we give back so that these 600 families can have a better Thanksgiving -- and in turn, perhaps they will give back when they are able to.
So Thanksgiving morning, when I wake up, I'm going to remember all of the things I complain about during the year, and remind myself that at least I have those things to complain about. Because when it comes down to it, having things to complain about means I have things going on in my life - and that in itself is a blessing.
I'm ending with an awesome quote that was said by a lady I work with:
"I'm grateful that I am able to give, instead of always receive."
What more can I say?