Monday, November 26, 2012
This Thanksgiving I was reminded that Thankfulness is just as much a decision as it is an emotion. It is easy to celebrate Thanksgiving when everything is going to plan and you find yourself facing a long weekend to spend relaxing with friends and family surrounded by delicious food. At those times, thankfulness is an emotion, something that wells up out of you without bidding. It is easy. And such has been the case with all of my Thanksgivings to date.
This Thanksgiving, however, I found myself quite sick. After a month of ever-increasing symptoms of Candida, I woke up on Thanksgiving feeling as if I had been hit by a truck. I follow an extremely strict diet of mostly vegetables, chicken, and fish, and this has helped me make great strides towards recovering from Candida infection. However, little bits of cheating here and there coupled with stress and not getting enough sleep had taken a toll on my too-sensitive system. Needless to say, THANKFUL was not the emotion at the top of my list. I actually felt quite sorry for myself. It just didn't seem fair that everyone else in the world could sit down to a delicious meal while I had to eat only the salad, and, if I was feeling crazy, a small piece of turkey. Mashed Potatoes? Too starchy. Stuffing? Full of gluten. Papa's famous green-bean casserole? Nope, there's dairy in there. Sweet Potato Pie? Forget it. So I followed the rules and ate a gigantic plate of salad with turkey on top, and woke up the day after Thanksgiving feeling even worse. And the death-knell to any residual feelings of thankfulness: when I went out to water my glorious patch of brussels sprouts, I saw that the chickens had gotten in through the protective fence and eaten every single sprout and half the leaves off all my plants.
As I trudged my sick sorry self back to the house I found myself thinking dark thoughts about thankfulness. I am not thankful this year! And then I stopped. What in the world was wrong with me? Here I was in my new cozy sweats walking outside in the most glorious California weather, surrounded by happy chickens, my two healthy kids playing together in the sand pit, my amazing husband doing the dishes, with the full use of my body and mind, and I was telling myself and the world that I wasn't thankful??? Shame on me.
So, in the absence of thankful feelings, I resolved to be thankful anyways. Yes, I felt sick but I wouldn't use that as an excuse to be grouchy or tune out my family. No, I couldn't eat any Thanksgiving left-overs, but I wouldn't complain or feel sorry for myself. I would take the necessary steps to feel better (in this case it meant going on a 3-day green juice cleanse: YUCK), but wouldn't paint myself the victim or broadcast my misery to those around me. I would bask in the late-November sunshine and be happy that I live in a place where brussels sprouts can be bought if the winter crop is decimated by rogue fowl. And, as has happened so many times in my life, when I made the decision to be thankful, the emotions followed.
Today, as we launched back into real life, I am thankful for my darling family, my super-hot husband, our too-small but cozy house, and the fact that my 3 day juice cleanse is OVER! I am thankful that I didn't wake up with a headache, ringing ears, and a rash for the first time in over a month. I am thankful that God has committed to change me from a self-centered person to someone a little more wholesome. And I am thankful that this morning I harvested the last of my tomatoes and the first of my broccoli. It may be a few days late, but I am thankful. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!