A personal initiative to live more appreciatively

Thursday, November 24, 2011

#1: Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, the table is set, and family and friends are hours away from arriving. Thanksgiving is upon us, and while I've been preparing for today for a few weeks now...as it's my first Thanksgiving hosting...I've also been getting ready to launch this, my Thankfulness Project.

The Thankfulness Project is actually an idea I came up with last year. And as a year has past, I must admit, I don't even remember how I decided to spend a year reflecting on what I am thankful for. But this time last year I started and, for some reason lost on me now, it lost steam. But the concept of it resonated with me all year, and now I think I am truly ready to commit to it. 365 reflections on 365 aspects of my life for which I am most thankful.

Why do I think this year will be more successful than last? Well, a lot has changed about me during this past year. In January I completed my first marathon, an endeavor 2 years in the making, one that took a great deal of commitment and changed me for the better. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and began to rethink how happiness is cultivated in my life, and I read 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam and realized the importance of wisely spending the fleeting hours of our lives. For these reasons, and many others, I am ready to dedicate myself to this project. When I look back on the past year I am aware of so much personal growth, and I know through doing this, next Thanksgiving I will be a more grateful, happier person.

So what am I thankful for today? Thanksgiving! What was once my least favorite holiday has quickly become one of my favorite. Kegan was appalled to learn this when we first met--- I actually dislike the Thanksgiving meal. The staples are not appealing to me, really, and so a day that is so focused around food that I didn't particularly enjoy could not compete with the serenity of Christmas or my lifelong appreciation for everything Halloween. But as I've matured I've changed my focus about Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite aspects of American culture-- that we, as a nation, take time to be grateful for the many blessings of our lives. It's the impetus for my project, and a manner in which I think we should all live, always. Too often we let ourselves be bogged down by negativity, and what we don't have or are missing...and I love that for one day we can all look beyond that to appreciate what we actually do have, which is so much to be thankful for, and all we really have, really.

And while Thanksgiving is what this is about, I would be remiss to not reflect on my mom. As joyous as the holiday season is, this time is always marked for me by my mother's absence. It has been nearly seven years since her passing, and while the holidays are always special, they are different now, without her. Today when I express my gratitude for my amazing family and friends, I think of her, too, fondly. I may not have been thrilled with the traditional meal she always served, but I am grateful for all the Thanksgivings we shared together, and how she made me thankful, on Thanksgiving and every day, to be her daughter.

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