Know This Love: Gratitude in perspective

Is it cliché for me to write a column about gratitude on Thanksgiving weekend?

Perhaps not, since most of you are probably already thinking about Christmas.

Gratitude is, like many things, about perspective — where we choose to invest our attention.

This Thanksgiving was the first in my life that I didn’t get to spend with my family in Minnesota. I’m an adult, sure, and I was glad to move out here in August, but still — I miss them and I would have liked to have seen them.

On the other hand, I’ll see them at Christmas because my parents are flying me home (thanks, Mom and Dad).

Thankfully, in any case, I didn’t have to spend the day alone.

Several weeks before Thanksgiving, I was in class talking with a friend.  When she heard I didn’t have any family to spend the holiday with, she promptly invited me to spend it with her family.

She assured me it was not just politeness — her mother was inviting someone from work, and her sister’s roommate was going to be there, too.

However, just moments before I walked in the door, I learned that I would, in fact, be the only person at the table apart from immediate family.  The other two guests had changed their plans.

Nevertheless, as soon as I relaxed a little bit, I felt right at home.

We played Trivial Pursuit on the Wii and half-watched Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (apparently that sort of award-winning drama is just too much for post-turkey attention spans, my own included).

I was invited in with hugs, and sent on my way seven hours later with more hugs and a plate full of delicious leftover turkey that I ate within hours of getting home.

At the risk of making this sound like a cheesy, Hallmark Thanksgiving, I’ll add that we made sure to harass and make fun of each other, too.

(I’d write more about this, but I never know how much of other people’s private lives is appropriate to divulge in a column that, in theory, can be read by anyone. Even if, in this case, I have nothing but gratitude.)

So that’s what I focused on this holiday, and what I’ve come back to tonight.

Yes, I still have chronic pain in my body, and yes, there are things I see people doing with ease — like playing music or writing for any real length of time — that I can barely do without pain.

This troubled me earlier today. I can’t ignore these thoughts and pretend they don’t exist, because they are real. However, I have to decide that my attention is better focused on what is right, rather than what is wrong.

Instead, I am focusing on the fact that I had an adopted family on Thanksgiving. On the fact that I got to talk on the phone to a family back home who loves me. On the fact that I came home to a bed, a roof and sleep.