Gratitude, the Opposite of Resentment, is a Nicer Way to Live

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Happy Thanksgiving. It’s polite to say that even if you don’t mean it. I don’t like Thanksgiving but that’s my problem and just a small part of why I’m not the easiest person in the world to live with. I have opinions and ideas and grudges and resentment and I suck at playing happy, especially on holidays that have lost the spirit of what made them holidays to begin with.

I’m not going to harp on the realities of the first Thanksgiving or how it could have been beautiful and memorable in and of itself, if the colonist had only NOT turned around and killed the Native Americans, who had shared their food stores, in the months that followed. Colonization is a nasty business and much talked about these days, thankfully.

What I am going to talk about is resentment and gratitude and how they can’t exist in the same mind. The be gratefully resentful would be to experience cognitive dissonance. Two competing realities existing in one mind is crazy making in the extreme. I loved my family and I resented the domestic dis-ease that came with the holidays. My mother hated the holidays and made certain that they were miserable for all of us. In the end my sibling and I started doing the cooking and buying mom booze well before we were of age just to get her through the day. Drunk mom was fun mom and we’d take her when we could get her.

I resented the work and the memories that went into making my own family feast because my mind was locked in the past. I missed my grandmother and my grandfather and the grief of the loss of people I loved broke me. After many years my husband took over the cooking and I am grateful to him for that. I have been in cognitive dissonance about most of my life, feeling both grateful and resentful to be alive. I once spent an entire winter flipping the sky off just to let God know how much I resented him for dragging me here.

Now that I’m single and alone I still hate Thanksgiving for the thing it has become but sitting here now over my gyro dinner with baklava and Dr. Pepper I feel less alone. Beside me sits a lit candle, behind that stands red roses for my Gypsy ancestors surrounded by dancing bracelets, and a medallion of the Madonna of Chartres. The moment I prayed and offered this day to my ancestors in gratitude and thanks was the moment I felt God’s peace settle over me like a warm blanket. I have been resentful but I am now grateful. I have been difficult but, in this moment, right now I’m peaceful. I can’t tell you how long these better aspects of me will last, all I do know is that in feeling them I feel God and find rest.

Enjoy your day. Value your family. If your family sucks start a Friendsgiving for all your lonely people. Notice your resentments and study their cause. It’s nice to fix things before they become a habit. Practice everyday gratitude. Past your resentments there are things you are grateful for.

I love you. You are the reason your ancestors worked so hard to survive. We are all family. Bless the hands that prepared your meal. Cook love into your food and if you can’t, order Pizza.  

Surrender

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I surrender. My war is fought. I lay down my resistance and pray for mercy. I pray on my knees in the carnage of my lost ambitions, a broken home, smashed family photos, the scent of an uneaten dinner rotting in an oven that will not be warmed again. I surrender this life to my creator, I surrender every hope and dream I’d had for it. I no longer hope for anything other than the momentary peace that comes between sleeping and waking, work and rest. Even in rest I am nagged with the why’s of my life, with the what if’s, the should haves, and the why didn’t I’s. My brain is a prison when I let it run free, fighting the war again and again that I strive everyday to set down and surrender.

So I breathe, I pray, I meditate on my knees and silence the bitter places that would stand up and scream for justice when I already know there is no justice, there is just-his version of events and mine. And so I breath, and count my breaths letting the grief subside until I am strong again and capable of moving on with my half finished life. And I do move on, as the strong do, no matter how shattered. Loss comes and loss goes, grief comes and lingers longest, time will not heal this wound but living well will deaden the sting and I plan to live well. I have trained to live well. I have surrendered my past, am free and fully intend to live so well that I will become a picture postcard of sunshine and gratitude to all the people who have lifted me up and held me tight. You know who you are and a million times, thank you.

I got this-I will keep going-I love you.