It’s 5 am, and I can’t sleep.
The house is silent–a luxury, these days–and I have some time to myself to process my thoughts. I’m so busy, lately, that it’s hard to find time to even remember what’s next. I dictate Google reminders into my phone, swype appointments into my calendar and memos into endless lists, all just so I can get through everything I need to do to keep up. Gone are the days when I felt my mind was iron-clad, and I could recall absolutely everything and everywhere I needed to do and be, not to mention all that was happening in the lives of my four children and my husband.
To say I’ve been stressed out is an enormous understatement.
But right now, the house is quiet.
It’s my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I love the food, the smells, the family togetherness. I think it’s the heart of the idea: the simplicity of a shared meal and gratitude. This year, I’ve been having a hard time getting into the spirit of Thanksgiving, and I’ve found myself resentful and angry at all the things I’ve had to do rather than enjoy the anticipation of this holiday I adore. And then yesterday, it finally clicked.
I get to celebrate Thanksgiving a day early with my parents and my brother’s family–something we sometimes grumble about, a little; that sacrifice of the actual day of the holiday in order to be able to really enjoy our time together and not have to split the day between families. This year, as usual, we rushed over to my parents’ house hours before dinner, eager to spend time with our whole little family together, laughing and talking and generally being ridiculous together before anyone else arrived. My children gave their hugs and kisses to my parents and ran upstairs immediately to play with their cousins. Per our routine, I spent literal hours standing in the kitchen, catching up with my brother and his wife and my parents. You’d think there weren’t a chair in the house, the way we stand in the kitchen and talk; the truth is, we just can’t be bothered to stop talking long enough to go sit down. It’s been all of three months since I saw my brother, but you’d think it’d been years, the way we hover over the island like one of us might disappear. Mom and I are even worse–I was just there last week, but we still have tons to catch up on while the gravy’s cooking. Three solid hours passed on that kitchen floor without my noticing the time; the only time I even paused was when Dad pushed a recliner into the kitchen so he could sit down and relax and still enjoy the chatter. I had to laugh at the ingenuity.
And yet, still none of us pulled up any of the barstools or moved to the living room. We stayed right in that warm kitchen and kept going.
And at some point while we were placing all the dishes we’d prepared into serving bowls and putting ice in glasses and calling kids down for dinner, I looked around at the people I love most in the world and realized how truly blessed I am. These people in my life–the ones who love me unconditionally, who support me, who have weathered storms with me, who make me laugh like no other people on earth–they are my greatest blessings.
I’m sitting here, this morning, listening to Christmas music, but the song that keeps coming back to me is an old Bing Crosby favorite from White Christmas. It seems appropriate, somehow, this morning.
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your day is full of love and laughter, and blessings just like mine.