An Attitude of Thankfulness

Most of us count New Years’s from January to January. Some even count it from Halloween to Halloween or February to February. Since Thanksgiving of last year however, my life has been going through some definite upheavals, changes and drastic sudden turns. Not a one would I have even guessed at or ever predicted. So, I couldn’t help but look back this Thanksgiving at how different my life is this year, from where it was at this time last year.

I have found myself rather overwhelmed when I stop to think about all the myriad blessing in my life. The people and experiences that I am grateful for. I’ve often heard people talk about how they take family for granted. This has never ceased to baffle me. Growing up, I had no family surrounding me – other than my mother and godmother. No aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents or any of that kind of thing. So, I have trouble understanding why people can so easily forget, neglect, or discard their families. I did find my family in my late teens. Or rather, they found me. My aunt tracked us down when I was about 17 – I hadn’t even known about her.

Slowly over the years, my once tiny little family has gone through growth spurts – as new aunts, uncles and cousins are found – and their families – and so on. From 2 to 20 something to I’ve lost count now! This past year has seen another such growth spurt. Another aunt that wasn’t known. But even more than that, it’s seen a growth in the real development of relationships between family members. An only child, I was never quite sure what to do with…family. All these strange people – some shared my last name, some didn’t, and the eeriness of seeing similarities in facial expressions and little hand gestures or the particular way of turning a phrase. These are things that are considered among the joys and comforts and reassurance that family is to most people. But for me, it was not just a little frightening, and took a lot of getting used to.

Having the questionable luxury of living far from any of my relatives, granted me the ability to take as long as I wanted or needed to really get to know any of them. And for a long time, not knowing what to do with them, I’d send the obligatory holiday and birthday card, maybe speak on the phone once or twice a year. Even email was sporadic at best, and usually short, because I had no idea what to even say to the strangers, as kind hearted and welcoming as they were. This went on for the better portion of 15 or 16 more years. Ok, so I can be a very slow learner, especially when I’m scared or completely out of my depth. And in this situation I was both.

This past year, I finally took a leap of faith, in more ways than one, and reached out and really got to know a few of these wonderful people that I get to call family. I even got to visit my dear cousin at her charming inn in California, with plans to visit again, and have a chance to visit with an aunt coming up quite soon as well. And while I’ve no doubt my hesitancies and fumbles along the way probably both frustrated and humored them, they were more than patient and kind for me. When I would express appreciation for this to them or to my friends, I’d be met with baffled looks. The unanimous response of “but that’s what family does” was heard often.

So here’s my two cents of advice that I want to offer on Thanksgiving. Take it for what you will. Families are a very precious gift. And sure, some you’ll like more than others, some you’ll be closer to than others. But if what I’ve discovered is so very common as I’ve been lead to believe by those who’re used to what family is and how family act. The amazing love they’re capable of showing as well as the depth of empathy, support and compassion. Don’t ever waste it, or take it for granted. I promise you, there are people out there, who never get to experience that kind of warmth. Treasure it for the blessing and gift that it truly is.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mr. C. Ricks
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 18:11:20

    Wow, I can not agree more. Family is something serious. No matter, whats going on family is there. Your family and you could be arguing a lot. But when you need them, they are there for you. I like this.

    Reply

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