Gratitude in Absence.

Thanksgiving is Thursday.

No kidding.

However, I actually believe my calendar is pulling an almighty prank on me in regards to this upcoming holiday. And I don't just own one paper calendar to taunt me--let alone my smartphone and social media inundations from new Facebook picture filters that remind us to be "thankful for us" to glorious, yet oh so staged Instagram food images that could even make Martha Stewart jealous. There are currently four, yes four, paper agendas blatantly roaming my desk drawers reminding me that this Thursday is indeed Turkey-day. But all those paper agendas are a confession for another time.

The fact is time--life--moves so damn fast.

But back to this time of gratefulness. A time that gathers many around tables laden with food. A time of families coming together. All the obvious markings that a Hallmark ad campaign can give us.

Yet, this day of gratitude, like many a Holiday event, can often highlight our have-nots rather than our haves. I get it. This year my kiddos will be with their dad. My house will not be hosting any fall themed festivities. And I'm the mom that decorates cinnamon scented pinecones with gold glittered cutouts of my kid's hands as place settings, makes triple the amount of needed appetizers, and frets over the seemingly perfect sunflower floral arrangements. Or maybe I was that mom. That wife. The title of mom still withholding strong. The latter has been shed for a couple years now.

Do the Holidays get easier to shape differently? Easier is a relative term. You find your new normal. You create new traditions. You celebrate new beginnings. You find new ways to enjoy the landmarks of time. Friendsgiving is a trend my whole heart endorses. And I usually resist trends.

When things/people/our norms, are taken away or we much need to walk away from those things/people/and norms, we may feel as if we are given the crumbs of life. I've felt that. There was certainly was a gush of tears this morning when it hit me I was not making a turkey this year with Blake and Ryker underfoot in the kitchen. Yet, and this is a big YET, in the absence of all that I once "had," I felt gratitude.

Earlier this month, Deepak Chopra posted an Instagram quote (see, social media can have it's perks far from filters) "all great changes are preceded by chaos."

Sit with that for a moment.

Great. Changes.

Chaos.

There was a lot of chaos this past summer in my personal life. Let alone the overarching tale of my life and losses. Yet, oh and I do not type out "yet" without profound remembrance of my own pain and also that of empathy for many of you shifting through a season of chaotic change right now, YET there is hope.

How?

Oh, that all-mighty question. How do we keep marching on? We stop. We halt from the march. We stop doing. We stop trying to fix it. Make it what it once was. Be who we once were.

There is beauty in a clean slate.

There will be no dirty dishes in my sink to tackle this Thursday. There will be laughter and love among friends at a 5k Turkey Trot (ohh that reminds me anybody have a turkey headband I can borrow?!!?), there will be aggressive amounts of FaceTime calls from Ryker as he and Blake stay with their dad for a few extra days this week, there will be new adventures and road trips. There will be gratitude.

Not the forced sense of "I'm thankful and thus pain-free."

Frankly, that's bullshit.

Heartache can randomly, and not so randomly, flair up. To be truly thankful, you must embrace that pain, no longer define yourself with it, but acknowledge it without attachment. Without judgement. Maybe sit with it. Walk towards it. Have a cup of tea with it. Maybe throw a cup of tea at it. Pour a glass of wine to sip instead. Then, discover your new Sankalpa--your deepest heart's longing statement.

Thanksgiving

And within this newness, I pinky promise you will find your thanksgiving. Your gratitude, not only for what once was, but gratitude for the absence of what once was.

I am.
I am grateful for endings. For they bring the opportunity to restart.
I am grateful for new beginnings.
I am my own giver of gratitude.
I am thanksgiving.

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