As so many do on Thanksgiving Day, I too am reflecting on the last year, on the things for which I am thankful, and those things where my thankfulness has been absent or lacking.
Don’t get me wrong — I am always polite and quick to say “please” and “thank you” to others. It is part of my kind and caring nature, to help build up those around me and to enrich their lives, so they might also do the same to others. For example, when collaborating at work with colleagues, whether receiving or giving assistance, I very frequently end the session with an expression of thanks for their effort and contributions.
However, I don’t regularly feel grateful for the gifts blessed upon me each day, and in doing so believe I take those for granted. These gifts include family, a stable and prosperous job, a stable shelter that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Is it that these things have generally been simply too “normal” for me? Too constant and stable? Too unchanging and unchallenged? Or is it also that my baseline thankfulness is so “normal” that I don’t feel it or don’t recognize it? It is more common for me to feel thankful for the things when they change or are different, rather than when they remain the same.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to go to a concert by David Haas, a composer of liturgical music for Catholic and Christian churches. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear some of his newer music that I had not yet found or sought out. His opening song of the night was titled, “The God of Second Chances.” Perhaps it has stuck with me so much since then because of knowing the story behind the song, which he shared afterward that night and has written about on his blog as well.
I can certainly point to some of the more significant events or periods in my life, recognizing both the “first chance” and then when the opportunities for the “second chance” came later. But what are some of the smaller, everyday second chances that I face but don’t recognize as such?
One that comes to mind today is my relationship with my 18-year-old son. As much as he and I are alike in many ways (namely our ways of thinking and expressing ourselves), we had been growing more and more isolated from each other in recent years. I, particular, felt it difficult to connect with him and share with him during those times when he was at my house. His graduation from high school, beginning college, and different desires and changes he’s asserted over the year with his change in status have certainly been a source of pain for me (the growing up transition for parents always is). But we’ve also had the opportunity to manifest our relationship in a different and more adult way, and I am grateful for him and for the time we are spending together.
With effort, I hope to be able to stop, recognize and write about more of the moments in my own life where thanks-giving is needed, in hopes that you might also be able to recognize them more in their lives too.