It’s that time of year, where we all gather around a table to eat turkey, drink Turkey and talk about touchdowns, and of course, for what we are thankful. Family, friends, good health and wearing stretchy pants to Thanksgiving dinner generally make the cut.
I am too, of course, thankful to have things in which to be, well, thankful, but I think it is high time we also recognize those things we scorn, ridicule or look upon with disdain or dismay. Yes, I’m talking about the things for which we have been or currently are NOT thankful. The “un-thankfuls” get a bad rap but when you really think about it, they are either responsible for creating or are a by-product of all those things we hold so dear.
I was NOT thankful to all of the potential employers who interviewed me just out of college and didn’t hire me. Or just threw my resume in the trash. It felt like all the time and effort I had put in at the good ol’ University of S.A. was for naught and certainly didn’t make writing out that first student loan check very pleasant. But those No-s and all that unemployed time on my hands led me to consider start sketching out plans for Lagniappe with Rob, and now, almost 12 years later and as we prepare to go weekly, I couldn’t be more thankful for those rejections.
I was NOT thankful for the times I thought my heart had been irreparably broken. As I sat on the floor of my bedroom crying, playing sad songs over and over again, I would wail dramatically to my friends, “I am going to be alone forever.” At those moments when you are so crushed, it is impossible to believe people who say, “It just wasn’t meant to be, the right one will come along.”
But those people speak the truth. As I am writing this, the husband I thought I would never have is in the next room feeding the two beautiful children I thought I may never have. And the love I feel for them is unquantifiable. And the long journey to him all makes perfect sense now. If I had known then it would have ended up like this, I would have gladly had my heart broken a hundred more times.
I am NOT thankful for the pile of dirty clothes sitting in my laundry room right now, a pile so high, I may need special climbing equipment to be able to toss the summit into the Whirlpool. Oh clothes of Mount NEVER-rest, do you multiply by yourself each night? I am positive I did not feed you after midnight!
I am NOT thankful for the seemingly endless cycle of loading and unloading the dishwasher, and I am NOT thankful for the building blocks, Power Rangers, Legos and pieces of fake food scattered across the floor (the blueberries are particularly brutal on the feet). And I am NOT thankful for all of the other chores I can never seem to cross off my list … that stress me out and lead me to shout, “Why can’t I ever get it all done?”
But then I think about a time a decade ago, when the laundry basket was always half-empty, with just a few of my own short skirts and sequined shirts, the dishes were always washed and put away, and the floors were Lego-free, and I couldn’t be more thankful for a laundry basket that doth now overfloweth.
A decade or two from now, that pile will lose its 15 Batman shirts and 20 princess pajamas, and the blueberries will be long gone (or permanently lodged into my foot), and I will long for these things that now drive me crazy.
I am NOT thankful that my mother is not here to celebrate Thanksgiving with me and my little family. After she died, I was scared I would forget what her voice sounded like and was terrified I would somehow forget her quirky ways and expressions. But she is still whispering in my ear all the time. If she were here now, she would most definitely be clocking with great precision and accuracy how much holiday time the grandkids she unfortunately never got to meet are spending with my husband’s family as opposed to her, because trust me she would have.
“Ashley, last year you spent 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 26 seconds, of the waking hours of Thanksgiving Day with Frank’s family, so I’m sure you guys will be spending more time with me this year. I’ll be putting the rolls in at noon, so make sure you are here.” Then if we hadn’t arrived by 12:01 p.m., the phone would start ringing. “Where are you guys? The rolls are in the oven.”
If she were here, I would be so NOT thankful for those phone calls and motherly guilt trips. “Mom, we’ll get there as soon as we can,” I’d say. “Get off my back.” Oh how I would do anything to be NOT thankful for that right now.
So this year, take some time to be thankful for the things you are or were once un-thankful. You will either be sad when they are gone or they have led you to the people, places and things for which you are now most thankful.