Thanksgiving is coming up and it is always a good time to remember the many things we are grateful for! I have a couple of stories that happened in our life that shook me to the bottom of my toes but gave me so many reasons to be thankful!
Isn’t that the way? You don’t see it at the time, but, in hindsight, if we continue to “get better, not bitter”, we realize God’s goodness through it all!
It was the middle of the night, Epiphany 2003, when we were awakened by the best and most efficient fire alarm ever…. three ear-piercing shrieks delivered by my 17 yr. old daughter!
It was 1 a.m. and Virginia was sleeping on the couch when our Christmas tree burst into flames – and I mean BURST! The flames licked across the ceiling and melted the laundry room door that was on the other side of the house! Within seconds the couch that my daughter was sleeping on exploded into flames! Inside 30 seconds all thirteen of us were out of the house and shivering in the cold! It was a frightening experience watching hearth and home going up in flames!
Four months later, after the dust settled, and we were back in our home, we remembered the many things we were grateful for: the elderly gentleman who opened up his home in the middle of the night to 13 of us and let us stay there until we found somewhere to live, the incredible generosity of friends and neighbors, the support of our pastor and parish, just naming a few!
We were very grateful for what happened the next day. You see, it had been a particularly rough winter financially. When you are a construction contractor, you live on the edge, especially in the winter. When the insurance handed us the $5,000 check to take care of our most immediate needs, it came in very handy! With the forthcoming money we were able to rebuild the house and finish off some much needed bedrooms.
A few months later, July 23rd to be exact, on a hot and sultry afternoon, I sent my daughter, Theresa, to go to the neighbor’s to get some sweet corn. The road had just been recently graveled but she was a very careful driver and I knew I could trust her. Jeanette, my 9 yr. old, asked if she could go, too. So off they went. An hour later I began to wonder where they were. Being a worrier, I told myself that it was silly to worry. I tried to put it out of my mind and I continued doing what I was doing. I heard a knock at the door. It was a man who said that I needed to call 911 because there had been a bad accident on the gravel road. When I asked him what vehicle was involved and he said it was our blue van, I fell apart! I asked him if they were ok and he said, “Well, they’re still breathing.” Yikes!!!
Within minutes, the emergency team, my husband, our priest and several other people were at the scene of the accident. It was every mother’s nightmare and I was a wreck! Theresa had to be life starred to Topeka and Jeanette was put in Intensive Care in Kansas City. She didn’t come to until 3 days later. I think the worst thing out of this ordeal was knowing that my girls were in the ditch for an hour, with Theresa trying to crawl to the road while fainting in and out of consciousness and Jeanette pinned under the van…while I was sitting at home telling myself not to worry. 🙁
Looking back, we again were able to find SO many things we were thankful for. For example: when Theresa was losing control and veering off the road she hit a sign! This pushed her forward several yards where she ended up rolling the van. If she didn’t hit that sign she would’ve went over the bridge and landed into the dry creek bed that was several feet down! That would not have been good.
Once again, the generosity of friends and neighbors was incredible. Within hours, someone had lent us their vehicle and gifts of all kind came pouring in. Meals were made for us for the next several days to ease the burden. Most especially, there were no lasting effects…Theresa has a titanium rod in her leg. We tell Jeanette that she was lucky to get away with just slight brain damage which makes her fit right in with the rest of us. 🙂
Those were a couple of the big things that reminds us of what we have to be grateful for. You probably have some of your own “big things” that has helped you to grow in love, patience and thankfulness.
But there are many, many more little things that happen in every day life that we can be thankful for. A good cup of tea or coffee? A homemade apple pie? A good movie? A stranger’s smile? A friend who cares? In this time of hard economics, just having a job is something to be thankful for. I’m grateful for the beautiful fall we have had. I grew up in Canada and at this time of year winter is getting its tight grip on each day.
Thanksgiving is a great time to remember those big and little things that each of us has to be grateful for. It’s also a good time to be thankful for the adversities in our lives because they have helped us to grow and to have compassion on others who are going through rough times.
Cicero once said, “A grateful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”
I read these words from a very wise woman: ” Learn to enjoy life. Be thankful. Smile. When you catch yourself becoming irritated or disturbed at circumstances, stop and laugh at the little things that steal your peace. Count your blessings and learn to be appreciative.”
I bet if we made a list of 25 big and little things that we are grateful for and read them each day from now until Thanksgiving, we would have a more meaningful holiday than we have ever had.