Truth be told, Thanksgiving is maybe my favorite holiday. I know it’s based on a myth and a history that makes me cringe — but the holiday I celebrate now, a holiday that marks some time off from work, is a chance for me to center again on gratitude. November gives me a time to refocus on those things, both big and small, that give meaning to my life. And so every November 1st I embark on my “Month of Gratitude.” Please don’t be too persnickety though when I tell you it just takes me to Thanksgiving — that’s about a month. I go with it.
This year, as I do every year, I have to start at the beginning. I have to start with my parents who taught me that love is always a verb.
Love is always a verb.
Not a feeling — not honeymoons and roses — not euphoria or infatuation. Love is the doing part. It’s how you show someone that they are treasured, what you do to build them up and to share your soul. It’s not easy — in fact, it can be downright hard and sometimes it might feel impossible — but it’s the most important endeavor ever.
Our life growing up in a small suburb of New York was not easy — my mother struggled emotionally, my dad traveled a lot, and I am the eldest of four. We lost both my grandparents within three months of each other, then a year later my dad was hit by a cement truck in LA, breaking both his legs — and then a year after that, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, a cancer that would take her life two years later. I was 13 when she died. It was 1972 and we did the best we could do. It was hardly a fairy tale story of growing up in middle America . . . there were really hard times. And yet, I was so lucky.
I knew I was loved — unconditionally. Without reservation. Not because I was told — in fact, Dad rarely said the words “I love you.” But the way he held the family together, gave me wings to fly, and was there to help pick up the pieces when those wings faltered, was life-breathing love.
So today — this November 1st — I am so very thankful for my parents. I’ll be posting each day my gratitudes until Thanksgiving . . . and I hope that you’ll join me. Even a quiet moment to reflect on something — even a small thing — that you’re grateful for is good for the soul.