Beyond Grateful

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These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It’s true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you                                                         ~ 10,000 Maniacs

Well, we have officially entered the holiday season. All around me, I am hearing snippets of conversations of how Thanksgiving is approaching too quickly or arriving too early  this year. Within the same conversations lie the predictable follow-up of how the Christmas season is fast on the heals of the feast-for some as early as midnight when they begin their Christmas shopping. Most likely the reason that some of us are feeling a sense of dread is that the holidays have become just another thing to do on our already overloaded “to do” list.  These exchanges obviously miss the point of our annual celebrations. As I have gotten older, I have become more and more cognizant of the materialistic and falsely cheerful feel that these holidays are supposed to imbue. Let’s be real: some of us don’t like our relations! Let’s be even more real: some of us have split families and are in the annual psychological juggle of whom we  choose to spend time with.

When we allow ourselves to get into this weird time warp of unhealthy thinking and situations, we are stealing our own joy. I remember the extraordinarily difficult time that my boys and I had with the changes in holiday traditions once their father left the house. It was so ridiculous to have to split time or have them choose between mom and dad. Now they are older and able to make their own choices that fits their desires so that the days are filled with celebration, laughter and emotional warmth.  They can begin their own traditions so that they can create life long memories of the season.

I want this year and every year to be an Appreciation Celebration. I want to dig deep and reflect upon what has really mattered in my life and savor it.  I was thinking about this recently as I drove up the highway to a favorite port city of mine. I was on a gift purchase mission for my sons and boyfriend.  Interestingly enough,  I had never driven alone to my destination and I found myself taking a different exit. I was not panicked by my detour in the least; I knew the city well enough. Also, since I only had a dollar bill, I would need to find parking on the street as opposed to a garage. So, I was quite proud of myself when I arrived at a near perfect parking spot that charged just a buck for 1 hour of parking and was close to the store!  One of the best parts about shopping at small businesses are the personal connections you can make with the store’s owner. During my shopping, the owner and I had a meaningful conversation about relationships with our children and even a bit about our own lives. He struck me a person who had experienced some of life’s hard knocks and had come out a better person as as result. I was so delighted by our talk that I left the store ready for another solo shopping adventure in yet another port city! As I traveled south, the sun was setting. Sunsets on the coast are huge-the whole sky looks like it’s awash in a golden orange. I remember thinking that I started the week basking in the sunrise and now I was doing the same with the sunset at the end of the week-very fitting. So onward I drove until I arrived at yet another terrific specialty store. And of course, my experience there was equally as positive-having made a connection with the store manager around the miracle of finding love the second time around and the challenges of a long distance relationship.

When my shopping was complete,  I felt energized by the experience. Not only had I done something by myself for the first time (on a Friday night in the dark) but I had enjoyed an authentic connection with 2 strangers!  All of us crave some form of connection to others.  Of course, I cannot expect everyone to be like me. But I do believe the we can at least be kind to one another or give a person a smile. Often we are too caught up in our own personal agendas to take the time to perform simple acts of kindness. And, of course, this is exactly what gets lost in the holiday rush.

I feel like I have finally arrived in the life that I was meant to be living. I have an unbounded sense of freedom. I am surrounded by love daily. The other day, I needed to call my youngest son while we were both on our way to work. When he answered the phone, I could tell that he was glad to hear from me just by the way he said hello. For the past two Saturdays, he and his girlfriend have asked if I have dinner plans.  What nearly 20 year old wants to hang with his mom on a weekend night? (Great way to stay out of trouble, though!) My oldest son and his girlfriend are now regular attendees at Sunday dinner. When the five of us are together, we relax, talk and chow down. What especially strikes me is how my sons’ girlfriends love the boys for who they are. As a mother, I could not ask for anything more.

Life is not only short, it is fragile. Go out and live this season and every season with purpose, love and good intentions.

 

Please note that this post was originally published on 11/19/12 as my own free write and well before I had so many wonderful and inspiring followers of my blog. It fits well with today’s prompt. I am grateful to all of you for your unending support. And I am forever grateful to Kellie Elmore without whom this blog would not have grown. HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

#FWF Free Write Friday: Gratitude

by Kellie Elmore

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3 thoughts on “Beyond Grateful

  1. wow!!! I literally JUST commented on Mark’s piece and told him that I thought the works this week were meant for me (like a sign) like someone trying to tell me something and then I read this! I have goosebumps.

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