How Grateful Is Grateful Enough?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, though in my experience, it comes with challenges both mental and emotional for many people. And this Thanksgiving — well, it was no doubt a strange Thanksgiving for just about all of us.

One of my Thanksgiving goals this year was to immerse myself fully in gratitude. To be cancer-free, to have avoided chemo, to be mere weeks away from my ileostomy reversal, and to be enjoying all those blessings and more in the loving company of the amazing Alexis and adorable Addie — there really are no words. And we had a nice day. We embraced the no-frills vibe this year and got takeout bird & sides from one of our favorite local spots.

But still, the day felt odd, as I’m sure it did for a lot of families. And the more odd it felt, the more stressed I got. I’m supposed to be grateful, dammit! Nothing about this day should feel weird, or sad, or uncomfortable. All my extra super-gratitude should have made it the happiest Thanksgiving of all time. But something was definitely missing.

Gratitude is a funny thing, isn’t it? After happiness, its confounding cousin, gratitude is the emotion we usually feel most compelled to quantify. And Thanksgiving — the holiday season in general, really — sure puts the heat on.

Maybe the problem is that holidays like Thanksgiving trick us into thinking that gratitude is something to be measured at a snapshot in time, when really it’s a way of thinking, acting, and living over much longer spans. A Thanksgiving without extended family, with no gathering around a big table, watching a Macy’s parade sans spectators? Pleasant, yes, but definitely not my favorite. And I’m fine with that now, because measuring in weeks and months, I’ve never been more grateful for my health and our amazing life.

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