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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A grateful heart

     Without a doubt, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.  There are lots of reasons all wrapped up in gratitude and love.  This is a holiday that along with all of its bountiful food and family gatherings is also known for generating thoughts of appreciation.
     We have a tradition that is very special and dear to my heart.  Pieces of paper are laid beside a bowl along with a pen. Throughout the day while the turkey is roasting, people wander over to the bowl, and put pen to paper to express what they are thankful for over the past year.  
Then, after dinner, we pass the bowl and and read them aloud.  If you select your own you can toss it back in and select another.   We have been doing this for many years now and although we often have some of the same sentiments expressed around loving one another and thanking our hosts (my brother and Dave who open their home to my entire family every year!) I never tire of hearing them expressed!  Every year there are several new ones or funny ones or just cleverly worded ones that make it fun and sweet and special year after year.  I cannot wait till I have little ones at the table to contribute their thankful thoughts. I believe that saying aloud how grateful we are for the many blessings life has given us is a simple yet profound reminder of how wonderfully fortunate we are.  I have written at length in a previous post of my deepest gratitude for those in my life who are so precious - - so there is no need to re-post it here...suffice it to say that all of those sentiments are still felt with the deepest love.
    The other part of this holiday I love is that our family gathers for no other reason than to be together - not for a wedding or a concert or a graduation or birthday, etc.  As nice as those all are, this holiday is all about spending time our case we eat, watch lots of football, play football in the annual Turkey Bowl, shop, play games, watch movies and just hang out and laugh and share and hug...oh yes..lots of hugs. 
     One of the things I miss the most about my sons not living nearby are the hugs that a mom likes to give to her children every day.  It is amazing how important touch is to the feelings of love, security, contentment, etc. that we all crave.  And for a mother, those hugs are given and received from the moment of birth and so I naturally enjoy when my sons are home and I can hug them often!  If you have your children near you, hug them often and with joy and abandon!  I am lucky to have a spouse and a brother who are also huggers and I treasure their hugs too.
     So, relative to our RA there is much to learn from Thanksgiving.  One tough lesson for me is around how much I do with regard to the cooking and other chores associated with the day itself.  I was feeling pretty good this year and despite the fact that my brother insisted on cooking literally every meal (the man is a saint) I thought I would at least do the side dishes....well here is what I have figured out (DUH!).
     When I am feeling good, I assume that nothing will change  so I go ahead and do things that I know from past experience will likely lead to joint discomfort.   Why?  Well, think about your life prior to RA.  If you knee was not hurting you would not hesitate to run if you wanted.  If your hands were strong and feeling fine you would go right ahead and knit if you chose to.  But - if your knees hurt you would stop running and if your hands hurt you would surely not take up knitting.  Well, so it is with RA...with a big difference...we have to ANTICIPATE the pain and discomfort.  Our hands may start out just fine....but after stirring or chopping food those same hands have now become swollen and painful.  I find it very difficult to sit by with hands that AT THAT MOMENT feel fine while other do the tasks that I used to be able to do without thinking.  So it was this I write this I have my compression gloves on thanks to once again (Dear God when will I learn?) doing more than I should have.  I really am not sure that will ever change.  I honestly believe that I will probably push the envelope till the end of my time on earth because I just cannot sit around and let others do everything for me...just is not in my make-up. I try to do it...God knows I try...and I have given up doing cooking at home for the most part...but the guilt over doing so is still there no matter how much I joke that I love not cooking.  I hear about friends who cook wonderful meals for their family and friends and I feel that I should do it too...but then reality sets in and I step back...usually.  When I don't I pay the price....a very high price filled with pain and discomfort.
     I can clearly recall times when I chose not to ride that bike or take that walk when I physically could have with no problem and that at times haunts me to this day.  What I would give to have some of those times back. But I am not a person the looks to the past with regret.  Rather I like to look to the future having learned from the past and with an eye to finding joy in each moment I am here and with my loved ones.   And so it is with a grateful heart that I have to thank RA just a bit for making me so keenly aware of how precious each day is.
Remember to reflect during this season of gratitude and kindness on the joy of being.



Fred Richenderfer said...

Insightful as always and the visuals add to the entertainment and readability value of your blog. Well done!

P.S. I'm thankful for having the best sister on the planet.

derf sr said...


abcsofra said...

I so agree on cherishing each day. And I love your family's tradition on giving thanks :-) I hope someone has kept those little pieces of paper over the years!