My son’s favorite word is “more.” Some might say it’s mine, too. For Thanksgiving, I’m working on a different word: “enough.”
When I say I want more, I’m not talking about material objects or bigger cars. I’m talking about just wanting more out of life: accomplishing more, doing more, seeing more. I’m constantly feeling like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I struggle to fit in everything, and with a toddler, that’s hard.
I have a difficult time sitting back and enjoying the moment, of not thinking about the list of things in my head that I have or want to do. I’m constantly comparing my life to others, as least as I see others’ lives on Facebook (and we know FB lies). I always want more.
So this Thanksgiving, as trite as it sounds, I’m going to focus on being grateful for the things I do have. This is not an easy task for me, and probably for many people. In our privileged world, we want the best: The best schools and the best jobs and the best vacations. We want to eat at the best restaurants and wear the best clothes and stay at the best hotels. We want our children to have the best. In our jobs, we want to be the best worker, the best of what we do, the top of our game.
Many of these goals are admirable. I grew up always striving, always determined for more. I get annoyed at myself when I don’t do the best job, or when I think someone else has done something better than I have. Or when someone else has more than me.
I wish I could just have more children without infertility treatments or adoption.
There are many things I wish for.
But if recent world events have showed me anything, it’s that these are small, small problems. There are parents in this world dealing with much harder challenges. I know this rationally. So how do I find the balance between striving for more and being grateful for what I have?
I never thought I’d quote Oprah, but today I read something she said that resonated with me:
Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
I’ve felt my own shortcomings recently, as I have seen so much that others are going through while I grumble about my own life. So this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my son, my husband, my family. I’m glad I have a roof over my head and food to eat. These are no small things, because many people don’t have them, or have lost them.
I have enough, and I’m realizing that enough is more than enough.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?
The season of giving seems to have turned into the season of being pissed off — at non-traditional Santa displays, at coffee cups that don’t adequately express the holiday spirit, at the people who are pissed off about the Santa displays and coffee cups. But the biggest so-called controversy is when we should start celebrating Christmastime, as every year it starts creeping earlier and earlier in an attempt to capitalize on the holiday shoppers who are chomping at the bit to start spending money.
Some stores are rejecting that notion, in a savvy marketing move to gain publicity (and therefore, dollars) by bucking the trend. “See us, we are keeping the sacred holiday timeline!” they shout. “We uphold all the traditional values you hold dear!”
Normally, I would agree with them. I hate the commercialization of Christmas, I hate change, and I love companies that seem to stand up for what’s right in the face of what makes money.
But not this time.
“We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet!” you exclaim. “The day after Halloween, the stores roll out the Christmas decorations! It’s just wrong! Can’t we have one holiday at a time?”
This is a fair point. But here’s the thing — Thanksgiving just doesn’t have much of a lead up to it. It’s one day, and besides a bit of preparation at the grocery store or a day of pie-baking, there’s not much that happens in advance of the holiday. It doesn’t need time to celebrate besides the actual day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving. It’s just not that exciting. It’s a cozy, stay-home-and-stuff-your-face-and-watch-football kind of day. It doesn’t need nearly a month of lead-in time.
But Christmas does — and more. Every year after Thanksgiving, I scramble to get in all my Christmastime reveling in the month before the holiday hits. Never mind the shopping — what about Christmas parties and cookie baking and Christmas movie watching and Santa trains and tree trimming and caroling and card writing?
It’s nearly impossible.
I’ve often thought that the holiday season needs to be more spread out. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the calendar and just move things around a bit? There’s really nothing of interest that happens between January and April. It’s such a boring, dreary time of year. What if we could add in a little more time between the summer and Halloween, and then between Halloween and Thanksgiving, and finally (and most importantly) between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Then all the holidays could get their due, no one would be complaining that Thanksgiving is getting the shaft, and we’d be saved the boring-ness that is the winter and early spring. (At least the winter has the possibility of snow days. Don’t even get me started on the drab, dull, brown month of March.)
So this year, I’ve decided I’m OK with the blatant disregard of Thanksgiving in favor of a jump-start on Christmas. Turkey Day, I haven’t forgotten you. I will look forward to your yummy deliciousness, Macy’s parade, football, and my favorite (only?) Thanksgiving movie, Home for the Holidays.
But Christmas, I welcome you early. I don’t mind if radio stations have started playing Christmas music already — just today I heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” my all-time favorite holiday song from my all-time favorite holiday movie, Meet Me in St. Louis. I don’t care that I’m currently watching a Christmas commercial for the Hess truck that came on during a football game in which the players are dressed in bright red and green (a subliminal message?).
I embrace the winter-themed decor in stores, traditional or not (after all, I never believed in Santa anyway). Even though I’m still eating Halloween candy (what? better me than my two-year-old), I will start thinking about my holiday eats and actually might start my Christmas shopping.
I love Christmas, so I don’t mind jumping on the early bandwagon.
How do you feel about starting Christmastime early? Do you think we should wait until after Thanksgiving?
I’m not usually overly sentimental in my writing, but around Thanksgiving it’s a little hard not to be. For a long time while I was going through infertility, I felt very cynical about Thanksgiving. Yes, I was grateful to have a good job and a loving husband and a roof over my head and blah blah blah…but I took it for granted because the one thing I wanted more than anything else eluded me for so long.
Now I have a baby, and even though it’s not been all puppies and rainbows like I once thought it would be, there are enough moments of pure joy to warrant a
sickeningly sweet post about why I’m grateful I have him. So here goes:
1. He’s cute. Really cute.
2. He has the best smile around. I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. Lots of other people have said so too.
3. He’s finally sleeping through the night.
4. After a lot of struggle, we got the breastfeeding thing right and are still going strong. I love nursing this kid, and he loves it too.
5. He now knows I’m “Mama” and that FD is “Dada.”
6. I love the joyous look on his face when he takes a few steps before falling into our arms (he doesn’t know how to stop yet).
7. Sorry, this one’s gross: More solid food mean easier-to-clean-up poops.
8. His laugh.
9. How he bounces along to music.
10. He’s starting to joke around and play games with us.
11. When he plays by himself for a half-hour or so, I can get a few things done.
12. I love when he falls asleep on me. He’s a great snuggle buddy.
13. You can almost see his mind working as he figures out how to do something.
14. His little smirk. It looks like his daddy’s.
15. He smells really good, just a sweet babylicious smell.
16. It’s adorable to see him interacting with his baby friends and cousins.
17. The way his hair curls around in the back.
18. Somehow he never seems very dirty, so I can get away with bathing him once a week.
19. His tiny body. He’s a little guy, and I love his cute little belly and nose and toes.
20. That he’s napping right now so I can get this blog post out.
I could probably come up with lots more, but 20 seemed like a nice even number. I am trying to stop and give thanks, not just on Thanksgiving but every day, for this sweet child that I didn’t think I was ever going to have. It’s hard when you’re caught up in the day-to-day work of a mom – the feeding, the changing of diapers, the calming down of tantrums, the just-trying-to-get-something-done-around-the-house-before-I-lose-my-effing-mind – to take time to appreciate what you have. I thought that I, of all people, would be able to do that, but it’s still difficult. So I’m going to try to remember what it was like before I had him, and what I would have given to have a baby. Now he’s here. And I’m ever so grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll catch up with you all after the holiday weekend. In the meantime, tell me, what are you grateful for as a parent?