Today is Thanksgiving Day.
Let me just start by saying that I did not begin this celebration of thanks with the most grateful attitude. I am ashamed to say it, but I usually face holidays with dread. The source of this dread is not a legitimate reason, either, which is why I am ashamed to admit this.
I dread worrying.
I worry about whose home we are going to first. I worry about how long we can stay before we have to leave to go to the next house. I worry if we stayed long enough at the first house or if we were rude and seemed to do the “eat and run” routine. Then I worry about showing up so late to the second house. I worry that our showing up late makes the statement that we don’t make their visit a priority, just leftovers. I worry that my in-laws and parents didn’t get to spend as much time as they wanted to with my children before we had to make a mad dash to the next place. I worry that because I’m worrying I’m missing out on special times with loved ones.
Then I think about my patients: my darling patients in long term care (also known as nursing homes) who would give everything they have to just spend one more day with loved ones for Thanksgiving.
I think about their responses when I left them yesterday with a “Happy Thanksgiving!” Most of them smile and say, “Thank you. You, too,” but the smile fades to a look of longing and sadness that is impossible to misinterpret. They want to be home for Thanksgiving.
I think about my patients who have recently lost loved ones and will be spending their first Thanksgiving without them. I cringe to think about how much that will hurt, no matter how well they are doing most other days.
I think about my patients who are sick with cancer, going through chemo and radiation, who may not be attending their Thanksgiving festivities because they feel so badly.
I think about my co-workers in healthcare: nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, lab and radiology techs, nursing assistants, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and so many others who won’t be home for Thanksgiving because they are working to save the lives of others.
I think about all these things and I am ashamed because rather than worry about pleasing everyone else, I should be worried about pleasing my God.
I should thank my God that I have wonderful in-laws with traditions that include myself and my children in such a loving way. I should thank God for my own family, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who love me so much and who would do anything in this world for me. I should be thankful that I have a God-fearing husband who loves me and leads our home the way God intends for him to. I should be thankful that I have two beautiful, healthy, and happy children to show off at these family gatherings.
From this Thanksgiving day forward, and for every holiday from here on out, I vow to never again worry about such trivial things. We never know which holiday will be our last, so I will deliberately and thoroughly enjoy each one I am blessed to attend from here on.