I wrote this essay for Thanksgiving a few weeks after the flood back in 2015. Seven years later I find myself in another challenging chapter of my life. I’m thankful I have this essay as a good reminder of the way I want to live my life, in a state of gratitude, no matter what.
I know my mother is going to make us go around the room and tell what we're thankful for before we eat Thanksgiving dinner. I will probably take the easy route and say something lighthearted like, "I'm glad I didn't have to cook this year" or "I'm glad for FEMA and flood insurance" or "I'm glad Aunt Jenny made macaroni and cheese." Those things are all true statements.
Those are my superficial answers. Everyone will smile. But I have been giving much thought to the one thing I am most thankful for this year, and it is simply my attitude.
I'm thankful that I can continue to be thankful.
I'm thankful that despite all the chaos in my life I can still wake up and come up with a list of hundreds of things I appreciate.
I'm thankful that I can hold on to my belief that the only thing I can control is my attitude.
I'm not sure who gets the credit. My parents and the way they raised me? All the thousands of sermons that registered in my brain over the years? All the self-help books I've read? I guess it doesn't matter. Somewhere along the line, somehow through life's trials and tribulations, it clicked with me, and it stuck. I can only control the way I react to any given situation. I can only control my attitude.
Many, many years ago I was going through a difficult time, and every night I would pray the same prayer, "Lord, please don't let this make me bitter." Every night the same prayer. "Keep my heart open. Keep my spirit positive. Please don't let this make me bitter." This prayer routine went on for months, and one day it dawned on me.
Choosing my attitude, sour or sweet, didn't have to be an act of God. I could make a decision. I could decide every day to focus on what made me sad or on what made me happy. I could choose anxiety, or I could choose peace. I could fill my heart with resentment or appreciation.
God answered that prayer by saying, "Hey! You don't need me for that one. You can do that for yourself. Just make a decision. Make up your mind to control your attitude. It's YOUR attitude. It's YOUR heart."
So on this Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful that I have Diet Coke in the cooler on my back porch. I'm thankful for the Black Friday deals at Lowe’s. I'm thankful for the cute sweater from Melissa Szymanski. I'm thankful that my daughter has wireless. I'm thankful that I have the day off tomorrow. I'm VERY glad to hear the sound of clothes drying in the dryer. I am truly thankful for all of these things.
But most of all, I am thankful that my heart and spirit are still open and can still see the good that is in my life. I'll step over the stack of molding on the front porch and squeeze through the old appliances scattered on the deck. I'll wind my way around the commode and the garbage disposal and the pedestal part of my sink that are piled up on the side porch. I'll climb into a warm bed with my warm dog, and I will say, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Universe. Life is good."
All of this is too much to say at my mother's house before we eat, but that is my true answer to my mother's question.
I'm thankful that I can be thankful.