List on Request Only
As I planned my next blog post to be tied into Thanksgiving, I started to think through the various things I am very Thankful for this year. I started to make up a list of things to mention. The list started to get very long, at which point I took a pause… The list was great and heartfelt – but I didn’t like how the post was turning into a list. This kind of list was great for me to see, in that it organized and showed in a concrete definitive way that YES – I have had a wonderful year – it wasn’t my imagination! I truly am Thankful for so many things that have happened to me this year (it has been an AMAZING year, in some ways the best year of my life!). But I didn’t like the “list aspect” of it nor the rote timing as we approached Thanksgiving Day.
As I looked at my list, it was starting to feel like I was falling into an “auto-pilot” post. A post that Cancer Blogs are “supposed to write” this time of year – sort of like our version of the local news crew doing their annual story on the Butterball Turkey hotline.
So I stopped.
Shouldn’t we be Thankful every day? Not just on the 4th Thursday in November for a holiday called Thanksgiving? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Thanksgiving. Everyone near me knows that it is my second favorite Holiday (sorry Turkey Day, Christmas wins that crown). Way before cancer, I loved the fact that unlike most other holidays when stripped to its essence (BEING THANKFUL) – it crosses all demographics, life experiences, religions, nationalities and creeds. I loved how it brought people together for joint communal time focused on just… being there for each other together… following whatever annual (or non-annual) traditions you chose to follow… and being thankful.
My Dad instilled in me the following sentiment when I was very young. I still remember the conversation as clear as day. “No matter what happens, there will always be someone who is having it better than you and someone who is having it worse than you. So no matter what happens, you should never be envious and you should always be thankful” I have no idea if Dad had any idea that that brief conversation would impact me for the rest of my life. Being a Dad myself now, I am guessing probably not. I never told him. It is amazing how kids can separate wheat from chaff without parents even realizing. Thanks for the great life-long advice Dad 🙂
Where are we right now? We are at the Grandparent’s house, thousands of miles away from our home. It has been the first time in 15 years we have travelled for Thanksgiving. Is it our traditional Thanksgiving with all of our standard annual family traditions? No, it is not. Does it have the same familiar sights and smells of the Thanksgiving dinner that I cook as master chef every year built upon a foundation laid down by my Mom decades ago? No, it does not. But what it is: a house filled with Love; a family coming together to support each other through thick & thin; the kids having a blast visiting a place they dearly love; everyone feeling THANKFUL that we are able to share this moment in time with each other.
Traditions are just that traditions – they are meant to facilitate accessing the root meaning of an experience, not to replace it. That is the all-important difference between “traditions” and “going through the motions”.
Cancer forces you to change things in life both big and small. All of that doesn’t matter if you keep focused on what I believe are key goals of our shared human experience: Being together with people who care for one another and being Thankful. Not just the 4th Thursday in November but every day.
Although obviously I wish my cancer was cured, it truly has been in many ways (too many to list) the best year of my life, for that I am incredibly thankful. Each and every day. Now pass the Turkey. 🙂