We are rapidly approaching “The Holidays.” Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday is first up.  The notion  of celebrating the harvest of  blessings during the past year is at the core of Thanksgiving —or should be. Often it is not.  Many of us are  distracted by the complexities of life. 

Perhaps you are knee-deep in trying to figure out your grocery list.  Concerns about the rising price of groceries is a legitimate anxiety.  Or you may be  wondering about the seating arrangement around your Thanksgiving table.  A lot can happen in a year.  There may be enmity between two relatives that didn’t exist last year.

Many of us  have been schooled in gratefulness since we were in kindergarten.  Remember when we  brought home colorful drawings of the Native Americans and English settlers sharing a meal together?  The conflicts at home and abroad;  the humanitarian and global crisis we are experiencing, makes me wonder how the settlers and Native Americans pulled this off!

During the full times of life, where everything seems to fit, it is easy to be grateful.  However, what about the thin times—times where we are called to walk around the edge of the life we have known?  

During the thin times, we  may feel that we are sinking in the mire of helplessness.    We are called to let go of what has been, while awaiting what is still to come.  I’ve been there, maybe you have too.

What we fail to realize is that the thin times can become a  fertile space for new growth. A word of caution:  This space may be a thorny place!  We  may continue to feel the prick of fear and anxiety alongside the longing for a new life.

 The Rolling Stones hit song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” clearly spells it out:.  

“No you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”

And that is the crux of the matter.  I am not a “silver lining” gal. Those who look for the silver lining may be disappointed and end up disillusioned. They will invent a story that is palatable to their particular need or look the other way. Eventually reality catches up and they  gotta face up!

I am not suggesting waiting for things to improve.  That is likened to wading in stagnant water—mush will accumulate, there is a loss of clarity and a deep decline. Conversely, practicing active waiting has convinced me that something is moving right where we are.   Our destination may not be clear, but a seed is planted. 

The  following scenarios beg the question:  Are these blessings in disguise? 

A  friend lost her job due to cutbacks.  She was at the top of her field—swanky office, perks — the whole nine yards. After some soul-searching, she dabbled in  photography and found she was good at it. Today her nature photographs have graced magazines like National Geographic. 

Losing a spouse is life-altering.  One’s life becomes strange, the ground under our feet becomes fragile.  No one understands what has been taken from us . Grief will remain faithful, until one day it lessens. The wound of loss will heal over with the not-so-thick scab.  Eventually,  we will become ready to re-enter fully into a  new life.

Likewise, the end of a relationship can be brutal.  Yet, statistics show that only 6% of people have the courage to end a relationship.  And a whopping 60% persisted in a relationship that was not gratifying.  Research shows that those who left an unhealthy relationship led fuller and peaceful lives. Courage is an underrated blessing. 

Nowadays financial worries can seem insurmountable.  We frequently fret and lose sleep over our dwindling accounts.  The energy it takes to live in a state of anxiety zaps the energy needed to discover a solution. 

Did I worry about my sons?  Absolutely! Yet they turned out to be fine other-centered men.  Like many of you, I worry about my grandkids who are living in chaotic times.  Back then we did too.  Not only did we survive but thrived. 

If we are living in the now, there are opportunities to give thanks every day. Folks,  if you wake up, there is a reason for gratefulness. Finding a parking spot on the North Fork these days is cause  for celebration.  

Yesterday was Veterans Day.  I remembered the men and woman who served our country including my two deceased husbands, George and Frank.  They entered the military during times of conflict, unrest, and chaos. Sadly, this continues to be a  familiar theme.

My intention is not to minimize our challenges, but to look at them with new eyes. If this Thanksgiving holiday finds you wanting, it is my sincere desire that your future self will realize that you are resilient, have gained strength and rallied.  

Sometimes an answer to a prayer might not  be what we want or expect but what we need.  Surprisingly  the answer may become manifest in the thin moments of life.  Perhaps we may even become  grateful for the slings and arrows that life hurls at us.  

This, my friends, is a blessing. 

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Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.