Four years ago, my nephew (henceforth known as the World's Greatest Nephew, or WGN) was about 2 1/2. It was our family tradition to meet for dinner at my parents' house every Sunday, where my folks, my husband and I, and my brother, sister-in-law and aforementioned WGN would spend a few quick hours together.
One Sunday in November, I was particularly burdened with the hassles of life. The holidays were coming up, and we would be spending time on the road - two long car trips just three weeks apart. My sister and her husband were coming to town, and we had gifts to buy (how in the world would we pay for it all?!), and parties to attend, and a house to decorate for the season. I had been taking cake decorating classes, and my final was just around the corner, and I was not prepared for that. On top of it all, I would be out of town for a week in January and needed to get my house and husband ready to be on their own for a week.
So this evening, as we sat at the dinner table, my mind was on anything BUT my family. Seemingly out of the blue, my precious nephew looked at me and said "Aunt Nini, you just have EVERYTHING! You have cake, a doggie, and another doggie, and Uncle Gus."
You know, when you're two, all it really takes is some leftover cake, a couple of dogs, and a beloved uncle!! What he said stopped my spinning mind in its tracks! Here I was, consumed with things I had to do, with absolutely no thanks in my heart for the blessings in my life! We were just a few days away from Thanksgiving, but instead of being grateful for what I have, I was busy worrying about the tasks at hand.
I thought for a moment about what I had to be thankful for....My husband and I lived in a small home, but it was ours. We both had cars that worked and were reliable and comfortable enough to take us safely where we needed to go. We had good jobs that we enjoyed, working with people we considered our friends. We were married to people we liked more often than not, we had our health, a couple of great dogs, parents who loved us, and in-laws we enjoyed.
Maybe we weren't filthy rich, didn't have the fanciest house or the newest coolest cars, but by gosh, we had nice enough stuff to make due, and a whole lot more than a lot of people had.
I am still amazed, four years later, at the impact his words have had on my life. I've thought often about that night and am so thankful for the perspective he brought to me. Even when things suck, and they sometimes do, I am able to find things to be grateful for.
Our family has had a tough year. One of the family dogs passed away last December, and my father followed her in March after a terrible struggle with cancer. We suffered through both losses and mourned the ones we loved.
I am thankful, even in the face of such sadness, that we do have things to be grateful for. We have a beautiful daughter who just turned three. We still have the same little house. We still have good cars and good jobs and friends we enjoy, and family who loves us.
This year, I count us lucky to have added a new puppy to the mix, and in August, the World's Greatest Niece joined our family!
If I could bring you a gift, it would be insight like Jarrett brought me that night. Every one of us has something worth valuing and celebrating, and I hope you're able to put aside your mental to-do list long enough to revel in the goodness in your life!!
Happy Holidays to you and yours, regardless of what or how you celebrate!