Gratitude for the Present Moment

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 / 5:00 PM

I've always had a soft spot for Thanksgiving – and not just because it's a holiday that contains a lot of amazing food (though that doesn't hurt). I love that it's a day for gratitude and to be with family and friends, and I love that the day lands during my favorite season.

Growing up, it was also the first event of a season of opportunities to spend an entire day with my cousins and aunts and uncles. As the youngest, I loved the change to observe everyone around me – how they interacted, what they talked about, and imagining how holidays would be when I was grown up enough to be part of every conversation.

When I went to college, I stopped coming home for Thanksgiving. The timing was too short, I usually had to work, and I knew I'd be home for longer less than a month later when finals were done and Christmas came around. It helped that I had family in LA too, even though I wasn't used to holidays down here. And I'll admit it took me awhile to get comfortable with it: there was less lounging around in a warm home and more eating out at restaurants, and something didn't scream "holidays" to me the way I was used to, though in some ways, it did prepare me for life after college too.

I hosted my first "Friendsgiving" my first year in New York, and it was lovely and made me feel like I could do holidays as an adult. The years that followed were less festive, and now we've come to 2017, where I know the holidays won't be as cozy and familiar as they once were. I miss the way we celebrated Thanksgiving when I was growing up, and I know it won't ever be that way again – partially because we're now all adults, and mainly because there appears to be absurd family drama that has nothing to do with the majority of us, and yet, by extension, we all end up in it. And that makes me sad because I feel like I've missed out on my chance to be grown up enough to be with everyone.

But in this year's reflection of what Thanksgiving means to me, I don't want to focus on the sad parts or the regrets. I still want to celebrate the things I'm grateful for: the move back to California, the travel I've done this year, reconnecting with old friends. And I'm grateful for the challenges too: the moments that tested my patience and wore me down to tears at the end of the day.

This hasn't been an easy year, but I'm getting better, and that's something I've never been more grateful for.

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