Health Magazine

to Be Grateful

By Melissa Boles @_mboles

For years, for as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been focused on what you’re grateful for. I know that there can be controversy when it comes to Thanksgiving and honoring a day where land was taken from people it rightfully belonged to, and I respect that, but for me Thanksgiving isn’t about Christopher Columbus or stealing land or any of those other things – it’s about being Thankful.

This year, for the first time, I spent Thanksgiving away from my family. I was worried about it, because for the last several years Thanksgiving has meant eggs benedict, the Macy’s Parade, and mimosas in the morning, followed by my sister trying to get my grandmother to relax with a beer (though stressed for why, as my stepmother does most of the cooking), and then, after appetizers, champagne, wine, and lots of food, the day concludes with my siblings and I lying on my grandmother’s living room floor, bemoaning our overly filled stomachs. And this year was slated to be nothing like that.

It was wonderful, though. I spent the last couple of days with friends who allowed me to stay in their home and enter their lives though they’ve only known me since August. We began the day with hot cakes and the Macy’s Parade, and concluded it with an amazing home-cooked meal in a home of people who have so much light in them…well, it’s hard to describe to you. They glowed with light, and I sat in their living room in awe for a lot of the evening.

It was near the end of the evening, when I was sitting in a lounge chair, that I began to feel the glow of gratitude. There was a fire crackling next to me, two men with guitars singing across the room, the laughter of young boys and the shrieks and giggles of two baby girls filled the room, and my whole body felt warm. The fire and the numerous glasses of mulled wine helped with the warmth, to be sure, but what I found myself noticing was that I wasn’t just grateful Thursday night – I’d found a way to be grateful all month.

I’m sure you’re thinking “great, congratulations, you were grateful this month,” but this is a big deal for me. I am your notorious white girl with all the white girl problems, from “my Android SmartPhone is soooo slow” to “they made my peppermint mocha wrong” and I almost always forget to be grateful. I’m terrible at grateful.

This month I challenged myself (through the use of an Instagram hashtag because I’m still a first-world-white-girl) to be grateful every day.  And though some days I forgot to post (which was probably better for me), I was grateful. every. day.


Gratitude is tough. I’m serious, kiddo. Saying thank you, that’s easy. Thank you for being there. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for the delicious food. Easy.

Gratitude is the kicker. Being grateful. Wanting people to know how your heart swells when you think about what they did for you. Wanting to shout at the skies “thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!” because whoever is hanging out up there sent amazing people full of love and light into your life.

And the hardest, the very hardest, is being grateful when you’re having a bad day. When nothing seems to go right – how do you be grateful on a day like that?

What I learned this month, is that you can be. You can pull the pieces of gratitude out of the trash, glue them together, and be grateful. You can. I know because I’ve done it. I’ve walked away from the days that have drained and exhausted me, I’ve found gratitude at the bottom of the barrel and found a way to swim in it. Those days are emotionally exhausting, but in the end they’re beautiful.

I hope, in this holiday season, you can find a way to be grateful every day. And I hope that can carry on past the turn of the new year. Because you know what, love? That gratitude is a pretty marvelous thing.

to be grateful

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