GRATITUDE: a feeling of appreciation or thanks
It’s Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday.
I love the formalities – the washing of china, the polishing of silver. I love the extra care that goes into the food preparations. I love the triumph of traditions over logic – traditions that dictate who cuts the turkey regardless of skill or desire, determine which kind of cranberry sauce is the “right” kind, and allow green Jell-O salad with miniature marshmallows to be served next to dishes featuring shallots and pancetta.
I also love what this day does for my spirits each year just before the craziness of Christmas. This day of collective gratitude is a recalibration for my soul. It is like the dimming of the lights before the show begins or the visible expansion of the singer’s chest before the first note is heard.
Thanksgiving is the moment to notice all that is before we get lost in all that is to come.
It’s a moment to celebrate a room filled with people sharing food and time and laughs – no ribbons required. It’s a moment to wonder at the human experience, to honor the shocking beauty we are capable of creating, and to acknowledge the beauty created for us.
This Thanksgiving is extra special. As it will do from time to time, Son’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year. This was a source of great fear for me while pregnant. I couldn’t imagine balancing a kid’s birthday with my favorite holiday. In the no-idea-how-deep-the-love-will-be world before his birth, I assumed my desire to celebrate Son would be overshadowed by my life-long love of stuffing and fine china.
Now I know better.
Thanksgiving is, quite possibly, the perfect day to celebrate Son’s birth.
Today is the day he made me a mom. It is the greatest gift I have ever been given. The most transforming gift. A gift with joy and surprise lasting far beyond the initial revealing. A gift I am thankful for every day.
Being his mom has been both easier and harder than I expected.
It is so easy to love him. It is so easy to catch curiosity and wonder from him. It is so easy to share in his joy and to laugh at his humor. It’s even easy to revel in his mischief and embrace the twinkle in his eye just before he does something he shouldn’t.
But it is hard to watch him struggle. It’s hard to see the toll that anxiety takes on him. It’s hard to see him balk when he encounters a new situation. It’s hard to watch him cry. It’s hard to know my comfort is insufficient to meet his need.
Like many gifts, there are strings attached to the gift of motherhood. The strings pull on my heart when his heart is troubled. The strings sting my eyes when his fill with tears. The strings make my breath quicken when his pulse races.
There is pain in the growing, but I am grateful for the growing.
There is an ache in the loving, but I am grateful for the loving.
There is sadness in the sharing, but I am grateful for the sharing.
Today I am thankful for Son.
I am thankful for his curiosity.
I am thankful for his wonder.
I am thankful for his joy.
I am thankful for his laughter.
I am thankful for his mischief.
Today I offer thanks for the gift of motherhood and for the strings attached.
I am grateful for the opportunity to love a child so much it hurts.