I am very grateful for my life, my husband, my home and I feel extremely lucky because things could have turned out so differently - so I am always aware of the saying 'There but for the Grace of God go I' when I see others in less fortunate circumstances. I feel especially grateful for my husband, who provides a centering or grounding presence for me as well as endless support for my goals and interests. And although I have been grateful for my job as a college professor over the past 25 years, this year I am additionally grateful that we have a fantastic dean - that can make all the difference and since he came on board, I have feel more joy and interest in my duties, even those that I don't really consider the most fun part of my job, if you can imagine that! So lots and lots to be grateful about this year!
We always celebrate Thanksgiving by giving to those who are less fortunate than we are - we donate to a Family Dinner program run through the temple and we also donate food gift cards to a shelter serving homeless and low-income families. The people who run these programs are always very grateful for our gifts and it makes us even more mindful of our good fortune when we consider the people serviced by the programs. I spent many years just one step away from the abyss myself so I am very fortunate that things have turned around for me at this point of my life.
This time of year is also one of 'letting go' for me - this year is especially bitter-sweet because we had to say goodbye to Bitsy, our 23-year-old cat who was my dad's cat before he passed away. We are very happy that she lived as long as she did, especially since we have thought she might die any minute - literally - for the past 6 or 7 years, especially since my dad passed away 5-1/2 years ago. She worshiped him and was his 'therapy cat' - she was a former feral cat who roamed his ranch in Texas. It took him 3 years for her to let him come close, another 5 years before he could touch her and 3 years after that before she would come in the house. But once she got inside, she looked around, discovered his bed and decided she would be an indoor cat now, thank-you-very-much, and all the other cats and dogs could just leave.
Shortly after that, my dad became bedridden and Bitsy was his constant companion - he had asked if I could bring her to the hospital when he was ready to pass but he eventually realized that bringing a skittish feral cat there would not be a great idea, even if it would have been allowed. Fortunately, the hospital approved my little dog Princess as a therapy dog she she was able to take Bitsy's place in dad's arms as he passed to the other side. But Bitsy was so depressed once she really understood that my dad was not coming home, we really thought she was going to join him soon. But even though she's been blind and deaf - first blind in one eye, then she lost the sight in the other eye and slowly lost her hearing, too - and even though she became incontinent a couple of years ago, she kept hanging in there and reached a very old age. But in spite of knowing we gave her the very best life possible, complete with warming pads and electric blankets to sit on, her favorite foods and as much attention as she would accept, it was still sad to see her go - and it's a little like losing a part of my dad all over again, too, since they were so close.
This is especially poignant because my mother passed away the day after Thanksgiving 25 years ago in 1990 - so I already associate this time of year with learning to let go of 'people, places and things' - it's actually quite fitting as 'winter' is nature's season for letting go of old things that no longer serve it, which then makes room for the new growth in Spring. So I look at this season as a time to be Thankful AND a time to Let Go of things that have reached the time to move on.
With this in mind, I use this time of year to go through some of my things to 'repurpose' them and/or 'rehome' them - and also to reflect on 'old habits, thoughts and patterns' that have served their purpose. It's overwhelming if I think about 're-doing everything' so I do a little bit at a time, focusing on one area for awhile, then focusing on another area for awhile.
I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend and maybe some of you will join me in the practice of purposeful Letting Go and Gratitude this time of year!!