Thanksgiving Day was a big deal when I was growing up because our family hosted the holiday every year.  Almost thirty hungry people packed into our home; I cherish the family photos from those Thanksgiving days.  We had the usual Turkey Day events; shopping at the grocery store, prepping the meal together, getting the special dishes out, polishing the authentic silver silverware, aligning the festive table cloths perfectly on the tables, wiping down the extra chairs and setting them around the children’s tables and popping the turkey in the oven early in the morning. Then we anticipated everyone coming over!  As each person arrived my brother and I would stack each coat on his bed and make one huge heap until they rolled off the sides.

Those were joyous times filled with laughter and family stories and after dinner my Mom and I would play the piano and the family would sing along, and of course, my Dad and uncles were sleeping in recliners, “watching” the football game.  When our stomachs had some time to recover, we brought out the dessert in special dessert glasses served on trays and fabulous pies with whipped topping followed by…the mountain of dishes.  This was in an era of no dishwasher, I might add.  My cousin Linda and I were the dishwashers.  What a task!!  The best of all was one annual tradition that I especially cherish, the memory of cracking the turkey wishbone.  My Dad and I would each hold one side of the bone and make a wish and snap the bone apart; the person with the bigger half won their wish and it would come true.  I loved this annual tradition. 

It took some adjustment when I started working as a nurse and I couldn’t be home to celebrate the holidays with my family.  Working the holiday in the hospital is bittersweet, though one learns to make the best of it.  Signup sheets hang on the bulletin board for people to jot down what favorite dish they’ll bring.  We place a clean bed sheet on the table in the break room to set the “fancy” mood.  I remember one Thanksgiving in particular we had a huge homemade Turkey; our coworker’s husband brought in from home.  If we couldn’t be with our own families, we were with our work families.  We would gather together and celebrate and make the most of what we had, that day. 

And on those Thanksgiving days, as I cared for the critically ill and their families, I realized what Thanksgiving is all about.   

Gratitude.
 
I am grateful for…

…all that I am: a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunt, a friend, a coworker, a woman, a nurse practitioner, a teacher, a student, a coach, a blogger, a business owner, a leader and a dreamer
…all that I have: my five senses, my health, my wealth, my happiness, my home, my family, my friends, my dog, my career, my employer, my coworkers, my patients, my community, my talents and abilities, my joy, my sorrow, my sense of humor, my faith, my independence and my appreciation for this one real ride called life
…all that I give: my trust, my heart, my money, my time, myself, my energy, my passion, my determination, my will, my belief, my thoughts, my advice, my support and my love
…and all that I receive: love, laughter, hugs, kisses, lessons, truth, gifts, thoughts, wisdom, advice, prayers, support, memories, experiences, trust, strength, courage, power, inspiration, freedom and belief.

Remember to take the time to tell those in your life that you are grateful for them.  As I have written about in my blogs, you never know what will happen within your day once your head leaves the pillow in the morning.  Have you said what you need to say?  Do they know the message that you hold for them in your heart?  If you left this world today, is anything left unsaid? 

What are you grateful for?

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

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