When does the word “thankfulness” have the most meaning? This question came to mind as I read many posts on Facebook. Thankfulness is based on experience, emotion and purpose.
Some of the most thankful times in my life came from the depth of pain. Times I would describe as hopeless, uninspiring and out of control. I felt as if life was a burden, too hard with no clear answer in sight. However the spark of a kind word or slight touch on my shoulder told me it was going to be OK. People provided support based on their experience and understanding of life struggles. Those were thankful moments.
I remember as a young wife taking a long walk on Thanksgiving morning and opening up an emotional flood of tears. I didn’t have confidence to manage the organization of this huge feast. As a middle child, judgment always wreaked havoc on my actions. I second-guessed myself on everything. How could I meet my in-laws’ standards of Polish traditions, when my German heritage was what I knew?
As I turned the pages of my crisp, new Betty Crocker cookbook, I read every detail with great interest. I thawed the turkey and pulled out the innards with ease. I thanked Betty! I forged ahead buttering, basting and watching the bird every hour. The house slowly filled with the scent of sweet poultry. I called my Mom just to verify my timing of potatoes, stuffing and the beloved cranberry JELL-O. I thanked her and thought of the many Thanksgivings she had prepared for our family of eight plus all the relatives.
I’ve almost perfected the Thanksgiving tasks, but in recent years I’ve realized a more poignant point of thankfulness. The seats at the table have shifted. The family members I worried about impressing and who shared in that first feast are no longer with us. Some died, some moved away, and others chose another celebratory path.
Now it’s time to move to the next generation. I’ve become thankful for the purposeful role I have secured in the family. I am the grandmother, the person my daughters call while verifying their plans.
Let the word” thankfulness” fill your mind. Open your heart to pain, for therein lies perpetual energy. This energy is the compilation of life experiences, support of family/friends, and the love of those near and far. When you say the words “thank you”, you focus on the richness of everyone one who touches our lives. We never know what is around the next corner and who will be sitting at our next Thanksgiving table.
– Beth Frydlewicz, System Director, Volunteer Services