A year that began as any other is having quite the ending. But as with any year, the holiday season has the reputation of presenting the chance to reflect on how the year personally shaped us. And since Thanksgiving’s now here, we’re reminded to take the time to be thankful—to have gratitude for those obvious blessings with which we’ve been bestowed, for those around our table, and for the year’s moments that grew us.
Unique to this year, many of our experiences stem—in large part—from a common core, the virus. Though varying degrees of personal impact, it’s on the forefront of our minds this season. Yet, there is space for gratitude within the virus and apart from it—you may be somberly grateful in remembrance for a loved one’s life well-lived, or you may be grateful for the unexpected goodness the virus ironically brought you. These radically different positions of gratitude can co-exist. We can hold hurt and celebrate goodness in the same hand. Summarizing this year as “bad” and wishing it away stunts us from seeing its consequential positives.
Honestly, the virus was one of the best things to happen to my family. Leading up to it I was feeling disconnected from myself (figuratively) and my husband (literally) for quite some time--it was dark place. I was holding myself hostage via thoughts of admitted self pity and unworthiness—knowing truths imprinted on my heart, but finding excuses to not to pull myself out of it. Then, quarantine hit--my husband stopped weekly work travel, we got to work on ourselves and our marriage, and I went back to writing. And The Known Mama was born. There was something unprecedented happening—a monumental change--both outside and inside our home. As complicated as it was to reconcile the nightmare outside my door and the optimism inside, these experiences were—are--equally real. Familial repair and personal restoration are what this year means to me. And though I feel this way, I also commiserate and mourn with others who have experienced the year differently. We have the ability to be present in ourselves and with others simultaneously. We have the ability—even if we’ve forgotten—to see how tragic things can be made for good.
During your time of reflection this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to spend time thinking about the hard things—the things that were ugly, messy, and seemingly unredeemable this year and years past. The lost relationship, financial hardship, the breakup, news, or diagnosis. How have unforeseen, tough circumstances made you more beautiful? Consider whether you’ve found and settled into faith—the belief that for whatever unexplainable reason, it had to be the way it was for you to be more you. What outcome that once brought you to your knees in sadness now brings you there again in thankfulness?
If you’re unable to fathom how tragedy can be redeemed, that’s okay. There hasn’t yet been enough time since the turmoil. So, let it breathe a little longer. Hurt a little longer. Heal a little longer. But, mamas, knowing your resilient and profound nature, there will be a day of gratitude for these unmentionables. The burn may always be, but in some dimension, even the slightest, you’ll see the space for gratitude. Your day of thanksgiving will come.