I think Thanksgiving gets more hype than it should.
It starts at an early age – we encourage preschoolers to make construction paper turkeys from their hands and write what they are thankful for on the “feathers.” Elementary and middle school students express their gratitude in the form of coat or canned food drives at school. And over social media this month, I’ve noticed many are naming something or someone for which they are grateful. But, it seems to me that we spend the rest of the year grousing and grumbling about bills, work and the latest “mama drama” in the carpool lane at school.
I’m totally guilty of being a complainer. But I’m not a complete scrooge, either – I recognize that the influx of appreciation in November is a wonderful gesture and reminder to give thanks for the really big stuff in life, as well as the most mundane.
Instead of focusing on being thankful just one month a year, I propose we show a little latitude in our gratitude every day of our lives. Here are a few examples I’ve thought of lately:
• I’m not a morning person. At all. However, despite how early it is each morning when I drive my kids to school, seeing the view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance makes me think, “Gracious. I am so lucky to live here.”
• When my son was admitted to the hospital for a second time within a week, I was grateful for friends who launched into action to take care of my girls. I question how they don’t get burnt-out with the unpredictability of our friendship.
• Resiliency and adaptability are amazing traits and I could not be more proud of my daughters, Natalie and Nora, for exuding those characteristics in spades. Being a sibling of someone with chronic illness can be challenging. Thankfully my girls are hard workers.
• I have been exceptionally appreciative for technology lately: I’ve been able to text or call my daughters, Skype my husband and email another doctor for a second opinion on my son.
• Learning from other families through HFA and chapter events has taught me the importance of self-advocacy. Those skills have paid off time and again, but more importantly, I’m thankful to see Thomas beginning to use his voice with his treatment providers. Programs and education work – I’m glad we’ve been involved in the bleeding disorders community from a very early age.
• To the creator of Legos: I’m an indebted to you. Seriously – thanks for the distraction your product provides.
• Spending time on the hematology-oncology floor at the hospital is always a good reminder to be thankful that it’s “only” hemophilia.
• I could hug Mark Zuckerberg for creating Facebook. It’s been a sanity saver for me as I’ve been able to connect with my hemophilia family.
• It might not always come from Starbucks, but thank goodness for coffee.
Even though my son, Thomas, has encountered innumerable obstacles in the face of an inhibitor, I try not to focus on the negatives of living with a bleeding disorder. I’m grateful for discovery and advancements in science that have provided safer factor products. The thought doesn’t stray far from my mind that many in our community are without family members over the holidays as they lost fathers, sons, brothers, mothers and daughters to co-infection. I’m amazed at the outpouring of love and support from the elders in our community to families like mine – those men and women really care about their younger blood brothers and sisters.
I have a friend who keeps a gratitude journal and tries to write down five things each day. I think that’s a really smart idea. I have those thoughts of gratefulness each day, but keeping them written down somewhere is brilliant. On the hard days – and we all know that there are some hard days living with a bleeding disorder – I should refer back to that gratitude journal and have a change in latitude and attitude to remind myself that I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.
I think we all should take a clue from the lady who knocked on our hospital room door earlier this week and said, “Hi. I’m Amy. Today is my birthday and I’m choosing to spend it spreading a little sunshine.” That’s powerful. That’s gratitude in action. It ignited a personal challenge for me – how many times a day do I say “thank you” for all the wonderful things in my life, and how do I shower my gratitude back upon others?
Sometimes, it’s not easy being grateful in the face of the adversities associated with raising these wonderful children who have bleeding disorders. I, for one, am trying hard to focus, every single day, on all that’s good in our lives, rather than all that other stuff. It’s not always easy, but it’s a lot less draining to be thankful…and I need all the energy I can get in this journey called motherhood!
Sonji lives with her husband, Nathan, and three children Nora (11), Thomas, (10), & Natalie (7) in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.