The month of Thanksgiving as well as the specific holiday are my most favorite times of the year. I am thankful that I can take the time to appreciate what I never take for granted.
My niece and I write daily grateful lists and we email them to each other, so I do not wait until November to begin such introspection. While giving thanks is part of my daily routine, especially at this time of year, I focus on what I am thankful for, knowing that despite my challenges, I can always be grateful. It can never be trite to reflect on what we appreciate in our lives.
Thirty-five years ago, my second son was born, one day before the holiday, and a very special reminder of the gift of motherhood. I am always grateful for a call from my three sons. When they end the conversation with "Love you," my heart melts no matter how often or how fast the words flow.
I have been married to my husband for over four decades and he still says these same words, and most of all, he means them. I am grateful for this and for the ability to grow older together. It happens without notice until one day I look in the mirror and I see my graying hair, my lines and sags, but the most amazing realization is that he stills sees my younger self. And, best of all, he loves us both.
I am at the age now, when I am appreciative of my alarm going off, reminding me of the gift of another day in which to live and enjoy those whom I love as well as the activities that give me joy. How fortunate I am to have had a career spanning four decades, a career that provided meaning in my life, one which allowed me to help younger souls on a daily basis to understand reading, writing, and themselves!
Today, I help through volunteer work and in spending precious time with my two, dear grandchildren. It is an understatement to say that I am grateful for my three-year old grandson and my nine-month-old granddaughter. When I am with them, I pinch myself, I actually do! Could these two little beings be any more delicious? They feed my soul in ways I cannot articulate. I am especially grateful to my son and daughter-in-law for their response to my request, “Can I spend time with the little ones?” Their answer is always “Yes.”
I appreciate that my mind still works, that I can get my sentences out and that I can remember my past as well as my present. I do not take my memory for granted, as my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s is a reminder how fragile a mind can be. Thus, I am fortunate to have the mental capacity to think and ponder, one which still enables me to feel great joy, and, yes, great sadness, and to read words with meaning, and to remember them!
I am grateful for seeing the glass half full, a gift from my father. My positive attitude and easy-going nature have served me well in this life and enabled me to resiliently bounce back from adversity, of which I have had my share. I appreciate the hard times, my difficulties, for they have taught me far more than the easy days for which I strive. Such challenges have been the true teachers of my spirit.
My girlfriends are one of the gifts of my heart. One of my friends has been with me for my entire life, but the others have walked with me on various paths, which I appreciate. Even when we do not talk all the time, one email or one conversation enables us to pick back up and gives me such joy.
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My parents are both gone, and despite being the older generation now, I still long for someone to remind me to ‘take my sweater,’ a mother concerned about my catching a cold. Yet, I am thankful that I had this experience, that I had two parents who loved me, who provided for me so I could be a child when I was supposed to be a child, and who helped me mature.
I am so grateful that I have a brother who is the only other human alive who has my family of origin’s genetics and memory DNA, who can ask, “What would Mom say?” and we both just know without having to answer. But, in all fairness, his wife, my amazing sister-in-law, has been in the family so long that she can answer this question with pinpoint accuracy. I thank my lucky stars that my brother married her, so I could have a sister who completes me.
What a gift my sweet Emma has been to me -- 14-pounds of white fluff. She knows what I am thinking and loves me anyway! To have the love of a furry child is to have unconditional love every day.
Finally, I am thankful that I have the ability to write down bits of my heart, the unique pieces that float to the surface, and that make me whole, for writing completes me.
Copyright 2017 by Barbara Jaffe. All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
When Will I Be Good Enough?: A Replacement Child’s Journey to Healing
by Barbara Jaffe Ed.D.
Barbara was born to fill the vacancy left by her little brother, who died at the age of two. This book tells the multitude of readers who have been “replacement children” for many reasons, that they, too, can find hope and healing, as did Barbara.
About the Author
Barbara Jaffe, Ed.D. is an award-winning English professor at El Camino College, California and is a Fellow in UCLA’s Department of Education. She has offered countless workshops to students to help them find their writers’ voices through writing non-fiction. Her college has honored her by naming her Outstanding Woman of the Year and Distinguished Teacher of the Year. Visit her website at BarbaraAnnJaffe.com