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Being Thankful for the Little Things

thankful for pie ;) 
It’s a cliche sentiment, the idea of being grateful and thankful for the little things. We hear it from childhood all the way into adulthood. We are reminded, especially during the holiday season, of the value in appreciating every tiny blessing and moment that we experience.

But it’s one thing to say that as an abstract thought and quite another to implement it.

When Timothy and I got married, we still had a year of college left. Living in the wealthiest area in the nation is already tough when you’re newlyweds, so add into that our student status and lack of full-time jobs and I’m sure you can see the struggle.

In addition to all of that, we discovered that the tiny studio apartment we were renting had several problems, including mold, mildew, lack of insulation that caused the walls to sweat badly during the winter, and an unruly ancient propane heater that oscillated between overheating the space and refusing to stay on for more than a few minutes.

Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas married were very interesting. We had one of our dear friends over for Thanksgiving, but because of the small apartment, we did not have a large enough dining table to all sit. So we sat, cross-legged, on the floor, trying desperately to keep our food out of our curious kitten’s grasp. But the food was delicious, the fellowship was sweet, and the memories beautiful.

Fast-forward to this Thanksgiving season. Timothy and I are graduated, both have jobs, enjoy the company of not one but two perky cats, and are learning each day more about our unborn child, who is insisting on making their opinions known even at this early stage.

I’m writing this the day before Thanksgiving, and I do so while curled up on our sofa, listening to the sounds of my husband peeling sweet potatoes and making cranberry sauce. He loves to cook, and I love to eat his cooking, so it works out rather nicely. Our cats are in and out, wondering about the numerous food scents and why Timothy is home in the middle of the day.

So what is my point?

I suppose I don’t have a precise one, not one that can be summed up neatly in bullet points. But what I am saying is that learning to be thankful, to find joy, to live contentedly, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, really helps you appreciate the good things when you find them.

Your teens and twenties are going to be full of challenges. I won’t lie to you, there are going to be hard days. There are going to be days you just want to give up. There are going to be days you want nothing more than to hide in your bed and pretend the world does not exist. I get that, I’ve been there.

But hold on to the good things.

Whatever it is that brings you joy—tiny animals, tiny humans; blue skies, gray skies; coffee, chocolate milk; good books, movies; music, art; writing, reading. Hold on to those things, and be grateful for them.

Those are the things that make life worth all the lows, all the struggles, all the tiny apartments with heaters that refuse to work. Life really is a beautiful thing, and its beauty is there for whoever wants to seize it.

Sometimes it’s harder to be thankful than others. I know for me, Thanksgiving has been a rough time for the past several years. It used to be my grandmother’s holiday—the whole family gathered at her house and ate around picnic tables and in folding chairs in whatever corner they could find. Her house would overflow with out-of- town relatives and the warmth of a Cajun- hosted Thanksgiving. When she passed away after a fight with colon cancer, that holiday became bittersweet. It isn’t the huge family affair it was. There is no central location for us all to gather.

But I still can be thankful. I can be thankful as I make the sweet potato soufflé that she, and my aunt, and my mother have all made. I can be thankful as I think of her while I craft a Southern pecan pie. I can be thankful for the memories she made for our family, thankful for the love for good things that she instilled in my mother and in me.

Being thankful is, like loving, often a choice.

Choosing to be thankful can seem impossible at times.
But even in those times—or, maybe, especially in those times—it is all the more important.

Be grateful for the little things. Find things that bring you joy. Hold tight to them. Look for beauty. Nourish your soul. Stay thankful.

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