This morning was a mess. My husband and I both woke up with bad attitudes that quickly turned to pointless bickering. Upon retreating to our room to decompress, I inadvertently knocked one of the lattes I had just made off my nightstand, exploding the mug and spraying coffee all over our bed and the wall behind. I wanted to scream and felt pretty certain a couple of expletives came out in the wake of my frustration.
It seems like there are more of those moments lately. The stressors of this year, big and small, haven’t let up. We’re all a little edgy, a little raw. Finding the energy for the holidays knowing that things won’t look the way they normally do is difficult. If we can’t gather with the ones we love, what are the holidays even about?
I’m convinced that this year is an opportunity for us to rediscover “thanksgiving.” Not just the fourth Thursday in November, the practice of giving thanks for our many blessings. Even now. Especially now.
The thing about practicing gratitude is that it forces you to stop and take notice. In order to look around for things you’re grateful for, you must climb out of the depths and remember how good you still have it.
After this morning’s debacle, I thought about practicing gratitude even within the scene of this challenging morning. I was immediately struck by the sound of my daughters giggling as they watched a YouTube video. I remembered how well I’ve been sleeping lately and felt grateful not only for that, but for our cozy bedroom as well.
I thought about the coffee. The mug that broke was a favorite, a gift after I was a guest on my favorite podcast, a moment I feel grateful for and one that has led to a couple of new friendships and working relationships. My replacement cup of coffee was in a mug from our church, a place where we’ve found our community and that has fostered our faith even through this year when we’ve barely walked through its doors. I thought of my friends who roast the coffee I was drinking locally, and the thoughtfulness of my husband who encouraged me to upgrade our coffee setup at home this year. I reflected upon how lucky I am to be married to a man who embraces fatherhood and marriage so fully.
I remembered the longing with which I wished for the day when I’d be working from the very office where I’m typing this article. I cherished the reality that, at this moment, our families are healthy and safe, even if we don’t get to see them this Thanksgiving. I smiled as I thought about the friends who have grown closer this year as our circles refined as we all decided who was essential to our bubbles.
When you choose to be thankful, you remember that nothing truly belongs to you; each thing is a gift. You hold things more loosely, because you contend with the reality that everything is only for a season. You remember when you once wished for the things you now have. You notice how good you really do have it, even when everything is a mess. And you forgive the things that are truly trivial, because life is too good to waste time on things that don’t matter, like spilled coffee and shattered mugs.