Thoughts on Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Thoughts on Thanksgiving and Gratitude By Susan Ingram

{4:36 minutes to read}

Here I am, sitting at my computer on the night before the Thanksgiving holiday, trying to pull together my divergent thoughts and find the appropriate words to write this blog on the subject of Gratitude. I’m finding this task especially challenging this year, given the events over the past two weeks, beginning with the terror attacks in Paris. Everything we hear and read in the news seems to underscore the violence, despair and fear that exist throughout the world. On a global scale, it’s hard for me, and I’m sure many others, not to feel overwhelmed by the sheer negativity of these events.

As a human being, mother, mediator, peacemaker and peace-builder, I know that the cultivation of gratitude needs to begin on a very personal level. By that, I mean we need to feel and express it first in our closest relationships—with our family, friends, co-workers, and local communities.

So, rather than discuss this subject in generalities, I’d like to share a specific example of how the lives of one divorced couple and their young children (6 and 4 years old) were radically changed by their willingness to look at their relationship from a different perspective—that of gratitude.

From Divorce, a Fractured Beauty

The article “From Divorce, a Fractured Beauty” was written by the mother, Lara Bazelon. It describes how the unusual plan for this divorced couple’s 5-day family vacation came about. They and their children ended up spending their vacation all together in a rented beach house in Northern California.

While Ms. Bazelon speaks of the anger and rage she felt leading up to and after the break-up, she also describes a profound realization she had when she was trying to figure out how to tell the children that their parents didn’t love each other anymore. Here are her words to describe that deep shift in perspective:

Then I woke up one day and realized it wasn’t true. There was love, an abundance of it; we just had to respect and accept that it was not the love of happily ever after. No, we would not be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary, or even our sixth, but we would always be celebrating our children and the physical and emotional bond that brought them into being.

As it turns out, the world of moral absolutes is ill-suited to divorce. It isn’t a question of good/bad, success/failure, right/wrong. It is a recognition that what existed is irretrievably broken and that something else must be built in its place.

The decision to end a marriage is not about quitting; it is about letting go of one relationship in exchange for another. The equation isn’t love/not love. Divorce, at its best, is a love reborn — birthed from heartache and rage and despair and ultimately, forgiveness — that creates a different kind of family.

Be Open to a New Perspective

I’m certainly not suggesting that most divorcing couples could, or would choose, to go this same route. Indeed, for many reasons that are unique to each couple, the vast majority of divorced couples would not find this to be a viable vacation plan.

What I am suggesting, though, is that divorcing couples at least consider Ms. Bazelon’s words and try to be open to a different perspective as it affects their children. It may mean that they resolve to be more cooperative with each other, or no longer denigrate the other parent in front of the children. Whatever steps they take, it’s a beginning. And one small step can lead to additional steps…

If it is attainable, this “different kind of family” that the author describes will be the most important gift divorcing parents can give their children for helping them ultimately grow into well-adjusted adults.

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