You see, Darling, somewhere along the way I’ve missed the Thanksgiving commercials with the mom trying to nurse the baby in the corner of the packed living room. One hand struggling to keep her kicking babe on her breast, the other pulling the blanket back over her shoulder for the ten zillionth time to avoid flashing her husband’s entire extended family. You know, the Hallmark ads that show life as it actually is.
Across our country today families will gather and be thankful. We will eat more pumpkin pie than our tummies can handle. But unlike the beautiful-people commercials filled only with toasts and hugs, there will be toddlers with meltdowns in front of relatives their parents haven’t talked to in years, babies teething and off schedule desperate for a quiet, dark place to nap and pregnant women who swoon (and not in a good way) at the smell of the turkey the rest of us find delightful.
I get bombarded with images of what I’m supposed to want. When the table settings, or the festive guests or the showroom kitchen don’t quite match what’s actually in front of me, I feel dissatisfaction creep in. And when we get to that point I can pretty much kiss gratitude good-bye.
So here I am in my house with dirty dishes and piles of clothes, some clean and some dirty, but I’m not sure quite which are which, and I’m deciding to be thankful for what I ACTUALLY live with. The stuff, the people, the reality. My gratitude list does not involve artfully constructed words that make the simplest piece of fruit sound like a work of art. Rather it goes something like this:
I am thankful for…
sharpie pen on the wall
moldy leftovers in the fridge
girls in timeouts
You might not see these items in a typical Thanksgiving commercial, but here is what they mean to me. Sharpie pen on the wall means precious hands that share a warm, safe home with me. Moldy leftovers in the fridge means access to more food than our family can possibly eat. Interrupted sleep means voices in the middle of the night that call out for one person, “Mommy!” And girls in timeouts means children who explore limits and parents who love them enough to set them.
I am thankful for this beautiful mess of a home and a family. We probably couldn’t sell you any Christmas lights or iPads, so I don’t expect a camera crew to arrive anytime soon. But I wish they would at least go to a REAL family gathering where the mom is cowered in the corner trying to nurse her kicking baby. Because that is reality. And I’m thankful for mine.