The idea of thankfulness was ever present last month, and no doubt it will continue into December, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. The reality, though, is that being thankful is something we can, and should, practice year round. So, what does that mean exactly? Do we walk around, smiling nonstop, never letting life’s tougher moments get us down? Well, of course, that’s not what it means to be thankful, at least not how I see it. We need those more challenging times. They pose a counter balance, and if we work at being in a state of mindfulness, the hope is that those memories of tougher times make the good ones shine ever more brightly.
The truth about thankfulness is that you need to absolve yourself of guilt. We are mere mortals, not saints. Allow yourself to feel annoyed, and have a bad day. You’ll hopefully get back on track tomorrow. At least this is what has worked for me the last few years.
Before the summer of 2011, I had a different perspective. I thought it was easy to be happy, kind of like “just do it”. I used to say we have two choices when we wake “to face the day with a smile, or a frown”. Life has since taught me that it’s not all or nothing. Thankfulness is not about happiness; it’s about being appreciative, be it for something tangible or intangible.
I had a lovely conversation about being thankful earlier this week with a reader. She’s going through a tough time, yet in the face of it all she remains gracious and thankful. So much so, that she’s started a site devoted to increasing mindfulness about gratitude. I’m looking forward to see her project grow.
Then I read about this on Tuesday. An anonymous knitter left little tokens of love in NYC’s Tompkins Square Park. How amazing is that? In the midst of all the awful things happening in the world, I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers. What do you say we take a thankful journey together? Let’s meet here every Thursday, and share stories about our week, the moments for which we’re grateful and thankful to have experienced. And remember, it doesn’t have to be all rainbows and roses. Some weeks, happiness isn’t the goal; sheer survival is enough for me. Today, though, I’m thankful for all of you in sharing this little space with me. In the spirit of sharing, I’d love to give away a set of my custom printed note cards. Leave me a comment below with the name of someone whom you’d like to receive this surprise gift in the mail. See below for the fine print details. And see you here next Thursday!
UPDATE 12/9/2015: This giveaway is now closed, and no further entries will be accepted.
Giveaway details: Two (2) winners will be chosen at random to receive a custom printed set of 4 note cards from In Jennie’s Kitchen. No purchase necessary to enter. Leave a comment on this post with the name of the person you’d like to see receive this giveaway gift. Entries close at 11:59pm on Tuesday, December 8th. Winners be selected, at random, on Wednesday, December 9th, and announced in the next Thankful Thursdays post on December 10th.
I would love for my friend, Laura, to receive these. She’s such and encourager with postcards and notes and she is the person that showed me your site during my darkest days of mourning my love. I would love it to come full circle. Thank you!
For my sister Marcia, who is trudging through her own dark space right now.
My friend Krista. Life with a child with mental illness and autism is a daily struggle filled with fear and sometimes hopelessness — it is important to always remember to have faith and be thankful for all the wonderful things in our life.
That is so terrific. You are right, sometimes it is really tough to be mindful of the wonderful things that happen all around us. We are inundated daily with bad news, tragedies, or just plain disappointment. Instead of focusing all of our attention on those things, acknowledge they are there and their validity, then move on with gratitude that maybe, just maybe, things will be great tomorrow.
My mom, Sue. She has always been a wonderful cook/baker, providing us with home-cooked meals each night. And that was on top of getting her Master’s, PhD., and eventually working full-time. But, life is getting tougher as she and my dad age, and arthritis keeps her away from her happy place more than she’d like.
Rosemary Flannery, From Clutter2Clarity
What a thoughtful idea, Jennifer. Since it’s Thursday, what am I thankful for… supportive friends like you and having some small projects to ease some of my stress. However, I would like to nominate my friend, Kim. She is dealing with an ill mom long distance and is in such need of love and kindness. She is mentally and physically exhausted from being a caregiver and being single has no one to lean on. These cards would brighten her day and I hope inspire her to realize that the position she is in now is in no way permanent. She will get her life back.
What a beautiful idea and sentiment. I, as I am sure many are, am thankful for a best friend who laughs with me when needed, gets bitchy with me when it’s warranted, and is such a blessing in my life. I’d love for L. to get this surprise.
It really is difficult some days to remember to be thankful. I am so thankful for the friends I have made in my home away from home. Without them the holidays would be very quiet and lonely. This week I am even more thankful for my friends because I received an early gift of a natural Christmas tree. I couldn’t afford one so my friends stopped by on the weekend and surprised me with it. It stands proudly in my living room and I am reminded daily of the generous warm people in my life.
I copied your post to send to my son Nick. Then I read your wonderful offer of the note cards so they would also be something I would send to him – hopefully with my own reassuring words inside.
I’d like to nominate my Mom and Dad’s good friends – they are always there for my parents and it gives me great comfort to know that I could call on them if I ever need help with my parents. They are unbelievably selfless people and I’m so thankful for them.
Thank you for your post – this fall, the stress of life has brought me to my knees emotionally. I’ve struggled tremendously because it didn’t seem right that someone like me who has so much going for her should get broken, when there are so many with so much less who stay strong. I too thought that there was a choice of happy or sad each day, but I realized through this fall that sometimes you get to the point that it isn’t a choice – and as you said it’s not just one or the other.
For my friend Hazel who has been there (and continues to be there) for me during some of life’s darkest moments.
As always, Jenny, thank you for the reminder. It’s so easy to get spun around with all of the holiday hoopla…thanks for keeping me grounded. You always do, in the most eloquent way.
Sorry, former editor within made me respond to my typo….Jennie, not Jenny.
This is so nice Jennie. Give yourself a gift. You deserve it!
Another thought provoking post, Jennie! Thanks! I’d like to see my friend Stephanie receive the notecards. Three years ago my nephew died suddenly. I worked w/Steph & she quickly became one of my closest friends. During this dark, haunting time she carried me on her proverbial shoulders, loving me, guiding me, encouraging me. I will never, ever forget how she helped me survive those first 2 yrs. I’ll be forever thankful for her!
Hi Jennie -I often send cards to friends and those who cross my mind or need to know someone cares. I would love to share a slice of sunshine pie with them by send out your note cards.
I’ve had quite the journey myself this past year. And I have so much to be thankful for. I thought, once I got past the one year mark back in October that I wouldn’t still have “moments”. Yet, I find myself struggling this holiday season. Perhaps, because I was still in survival mode last year so this year feels like the first holiday season alone. And even if I don’t end up putting up a Christmas tree this year, I’m thankful for the many blessings in my life that are there for me through the moments.
Thank you, Jennie, for the times you have shared. And thank you for giving me a place to share.