This year marked my first Thanksgiving visit home since I left for college in August. It felt weird and good to be home, weird in that I was now a visitor. Regardless of this new feeling I was overcome with the comfort of sitting at the dinner table as a whole family again. Before taking a bite of our Thanksgiving feast my mom prompted each of us to name something we were thankful for in our lives. This proved no big deal for me because I already had a whole list of grateful things stored in my mind.
Since school started in August I was required to keep a gratitude journal for one of my college classes. Every day I religiously logged at least three things I was thankful for that day. This new assignment quickly became a habit for me and I looked forward to writing in my pocket sized journal. I challenged myself to avoid repeat entries, instead seeking out new and unusual things in my life for which to give thanks. However, by nature I am not a completely optimistic person so having different entries was proving difficult. Fortunately with time my mental block passed and I could give thanks for something in any situation. My entries ranged from my fiancé, to the pretty pattern on my bedspread, to the smell of my mom’s homemade waffles on Saturday morning and my favorite entry, myself.
Also during my visit home I caught up on some lost time with my cat and was reminded of the theme of gratitude. Jack or One-Eyed Jack as I like to affectionately refer to him was a neighborhood stray who decided to plant himself at our home. I think it was too hard for him to refuse free food, constant affection, and a warm place to sleep. His nickname comes from the fact that he only has one good eye; the other eye is damaged most likely from a cat fight. In spite of his loss of sight I enjoyed observing the many other things in his life for which he is thankful. Some of his activities include: watching the birds in his yard with his one “good” eye, taking naps in the sun in all our patio chairs, visiting with our rabbit, and feelin’ good after playing with his catnip toy. Finally, after a satisfying evening meal he heads to the living room for some affection before settling down for the night. He walks over to me on the couch and pushes his head under my hands to be petted. I can hear him purring. He sits down and looks up at me with his head turned slightly so he can see better and I swear I see a smile on his face. It inspires me to know that without full sight he has so much gratitude for all the other blessings in his life.
I know I’m not perfect and things in life can change in the blink of an eye, but I believe in giving thanks every day- even for the smallest of blessings. No matter what happens to me, my life will always be filled with things for which to give thanks and it is this that makes life worth living.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.