Gratitude ebbs and flows

What If You’re Not Feeling All that Grateful this Thanksgiving?

I love holidays. I love Thanksgiving. In fact, I think Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday, or at least it’s at the top of my list. Not sure what this says about me. Okay, yes, it says I like the food! And the togetherness and all the rest…Holidays are great, but holidays can also be stressful for a lot of reasons but one reason, when talking about Thanksgiving, might be that perhaps you’re just not  feeling all that grateful.

What?

Is that allowed?

Well, maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer or some other challenging illness or situation. Maybe you’re sick from chemo or some other treatment. Maybe your loved one just died. Maybe you just lost your job and have no prospects for another. Maybe you just broke up with your significant other. Maybe you are all alone and don’t want to be. Maybe you are damn tired. Maybe you are feeling sad and depressed because your candidate for President lost the election.

There are lots of reasons why life gets challenging, and challenges don’t magically disappear for the holidays.

So yes, sometimes life gets in the way of gratitude, too, even at Thanksgiving.

I will never forget a comment a reader once left on a blog post of mine. That reader had metastatic breast cancer and was dealing with a lot of issues. She also had young children. Her comment went something like this:

Every night when I tuck my kids in, we take turns telling each other something we’re thankful for. Some nights it’s really hard for me to come up with something, but we, I, always do.

I share this because yes, sometimes it is hard to feel grateful, although usually you can find something to express gratitude for.

But even if you can’t, that’s okay too.

So yes, it is allowed!

Because you are allowed to feel however you’re feeling.

It’s also okay because gratitude ebbs and flows. Gratitude takes effort and sometimes you just aren’t up to the doing part. But maybe the next day, or even the next hour, you will be. So there’s always that.

Gratitude takes practice which means you don’t have to be good at it all the time, does it not? Sometimes it also takes patience with one’s self.

There’s a reason the phrase, practicing gratitude, exists.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best blogs around about practicing gratitude is one written by my friend Lisa Valentine. It’s called, Habitual Gratitude.

Lisa’s blog is filled with wisdom, acceptance and humility, as well as practical tips for practicing gratitude. Lisa leads by example. If you have a few spare minutes, check it out.

So my message in this year’s Thanksgiving ramble is this:

At Thanksgiving and all through the upcoming holiday season, be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient with yourself, even regarding expressing gratitude.

Be you. Be real.

Do your best when practicing gratitude (as well as when cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning, entertaining and all the rest of it) too.

As usual, it’s enough.

Really. It is.

To all who celebrate the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you practice gratitude?

Do you sometimes find it hard to feel grateful?

What’s something you’re grateful for right now, this minute?

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What if you aren't feeling so grateful?
Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Image via Martin Cathrae via Flickr/Creative Commons.

18 thoughts on “What If You’re Not Feeling All that Grateful this Thanksgiving?

  1. Thanks again for you honest post. I am not feeling UNgrateful today, but the sadness of passing this holiday alone , after now 10+ months of treatment done mostly alone (with family nearby ignoring me), is at moments, a little too much to take. I’ve cried this week. THat is good because it has been a couple of weeks! Good Endorphin feeling, like a wave of warmth surrounding. Feels a bit like what love from those who have that love and support must feel like. Not sure. My best friend is from another country and I tried to explain thanksgiving. I tried to ask him to understand why I need him more sometimes. He’s been wonderful in many ways, but he is a “feeling denier” and basically says I should not be feeling bad if he doesn’t ask me how I am, if I feel lonely, or if I want anything “extra” from him. I keep thinking he or others might understand why I might want a bit of TLC, but “no go” I am not convincing. I am barking up the wrong trees, so to speak. Time to move forward, not tell future people in my life about cancer (it’ll be easier when not so much in “active” treatment I think) and therefore not have expectations from others.
    Grateful that I have a good radiation team and that I have had an elderly neighbor give me rides…even if he is cranky! I made HIM laugh! Grateful for Nancy’s point and the relief I get from being able to read about breast cancer repercussions sans the “pinky/whitey washing”

    1. Ellie, I am sorry about the sadness you’ve been feeling, though it’s certainly understandable. Don’t feel you must hold back your true feelings, now or in future relationships. Keep communicating with your best friend if you want him to better understand. Of course, I realize it’s hard and easy for me to say that. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the kind words about Nancy’s Point. My best to you.

  2. Thanks for the mention Nancy! I appreciate this post and all of your posts. I find gratitude is not an all-or-nothing deal. As you say, it ebbs and flows like the rest of life’s emotions. Practicing gratitude has allowed me to become better at finding it, even at difficult times.
    Right now, this minute I am grateful for my ability to hear.

    1. Lisa, You’re very welcome. When the topic of gratitude comes up, I always think of you because I so admire the way you have incorporated practicing gratitude into your daily life. At the same time, you always acknowledge this doesn’t mean you gloss over life’s challenges. You are very real and candid about the challenges you face and have faced too. And yes, gratitude does ebb and flow just like the rest of life’s emotions. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being such a wonderful role model for how to “do” gratitude.

  3. Thanksgiving after cancer and after the loss of my husband astonished me by being so difficult. I suspected Christmas and other anniversaries would be, but not Thanksgiving. I have no family and friends did not think to include me. So now, I take deliberate action to forestall emotional tumbling. I find nice places that serve Thanksgiving dinner or, this year, I took a four day trip to a lovely ski resort. I find I have to plan ahead for these family oriented occasions. I don’t have the strength to host a dinner for others.

    What I am thankful for is my quiet peaceful apartment where I can relax and be at peace. I am thankful that I live in a peaceful country, just to the north of yours. I am thankful for good food and good books. I am glad that treatment is over. I am grateful for my cancer support group and for sites like this one.

    Best wishes,
    Honey Bee

    1. Honey Bee, I am sorry Thanksgiving is such a rough holiday for you, but it’s certainly understandable that it is. Good for you for being proactive and taking deliberate action to as you said, forestall emotional tumbling. You are very wise to do that. The things you mentioned that you are grateful for sound so calming. Thank you for sharing about them. Best wishes to you too.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Nancy! I am feeling the same way you are at the moment. I know I am blessed with many things but I can’t seem to be able to focus on the positive right now. There’s too much going on around us, things that are hard to ignore, and most of it worries me (you listed some of those things). Doesn’t mean I am ungrateful as we both know. We’re realists and that’s OK too.

    I am grateful for you and for everyone who has supported me through the years, not just with cancer but with other life’s hardships too. I am grateful for those who aren’t related to me by blood and still love me unconditionally. I am especially thankful for my caregiver who is also my partner. Yes, I still feel lucky in many ways. I want everyone to be well though.

    I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, Nancy. And thanks for the reminder to be kind to ourselves. xoxo

    1. Rebecca, We are allowed to have varying emotions all that same time. My TG was quiet, but lovely. Hope yours was good too. Thank you for your continuing support, my fellow realist. xo

  5. Hi Nancy,

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday too! Perhaps this is because it truly is an American holiday with no religious bent unless one wants it to be. This Thanksgiving was difficult because I knew that my cat Cosette was ill and would be put to sleep the next day. Grief intertwined with thankfulness. I was thankful she would no longer be suffering and thankful to have one more night cuddling my furry, purring pal. Right now, I still am thankful for her: she helped me through cancer treatment, divorce, and my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She did her job on Earth, and I couldn’t have asked for more. So, despite my grief, I am thankful. I think we can all ferret out some thankfulness every day, no matter how difficult it may be.

    1. Beth, Oh gosh, TG must have been rough for you this year knowing the very next day you’d be putting Cosette to sleep. I am glad you have so many wonderful memories of her. It’s incredible how our dear pets help us through trying times. And of course, they make the good times even better. They witness it all. When we have to say goodbye, it’s so hard. I am so sorry, Beth. Thank you for sharing thoughts on gratitude. Hugs to you.

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