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Happy Thanksgiving 2011: Grateful, Despite Myself

It's been a hard Thanksgiving for me, but I think it's more attitude and expectations than actual comparative experience. This year, I have so many reasons to be grateful, from somewhat easier behavior from my oldest boy to an adorable turn my youngest has taken -- to regularly (several times a day starting the minute we wake up) tell his brothers that they're awesome, and tell me I'm pretty. "Guess what Truman? You're awesome!" -- I can't think of any better way to start a day, from any of our perspectives.

I, somewhat impulsively, cooked a large turkey today even though it was just going to be my and my three little boys; our large family Thanksgiving was last weekend, and my husband's overseas (where he got turkey dinner -- and jet skis! -- at a Kuwaiti beach resort). Due in large part to my impulsiveness and in equal parts to my odd mix of overachieverism and procrastination, the dinner wasn't really complete until almost 9; there was no starvation here, but also no lovely picturesque traditions. We did not talk about pilgrims and native peoples. We did not dress up and take family photos. We did not say what we are grateful for. I will have leftovers (this, well, this is good).

By 7 p.m. I felt mournful. By 10 p.m. I felt more like a failure. But every time I went back to look at my life and the state of my kitchen -- yes, a bit messy, but so much bounty! -- I knew that my attitude was wrong and this situation deserves a better perspective. I could sit down and force myself, grudgingly, to be grateful -- or I could wallow in my imperfect self and lack of all the things I was favoriting on Instagram. Even when reluctant, gratitude is better.

I'm grateful for the most incredible turkey recipe I found in my neatly-organized-this-summer Saveur magazine collection; for an unusually awesome collection of babysitters who really love my kids; for having really found myself in writing over the past year-and-a-half; for people who say they appreciate me; for a husband who has a job he loves, even if it takes him far away; for being blessed with children who are both beautiful and smart and who, despite everything, love me and tell me so.

And I'm incredibly grateful for you all, and especially the other mamas who founded the site. How lucky are we, really? To live here, in this great city, or to have lived here, even. It may be insane and hilarious but it's something else, isn't it? Portlandia, the great and the strange. Every day full of story.

What are you grateful for this year? Do you have to convince yourself to be grateful, or is it coming easily?


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A serious illness in our family yesterday helped me to feel grateful for my health. With all the food prepared and everyone ready to meet up, dinner was put on hold at the last minute to head to the hospital. Then with the situation stabilized for the night, we packed up the food, brought it to the house of the family of the sick person, and ate warmed up Thanksgiving dinner. I am grateful that I am part of a family, warts and all, who comes together to support each other instead of falling apart when the going gets tough.

It sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving to me. The best ones involve improvisations and letting go of expectations and it sounds like you are doing a beautiful job of it. And leftovers! Having a wee one has certainly made me more patient and thankful of most things I might have ignored a few years ago. I'm thrilled to be raising a Portlander.

My Grandma, who I was very close to, passed away last December, so although I have had almost a year to mourn her this was my first Thanksgiving without her in the world. She lived very far away so I didn't always see her on this holiday, but I was thinking about her a lot this week. I am most grateful that I got to have her in my life. She was extraordinary in every way, and I can only hope to honor her memory as much as she deserves.

Overwhelmed with gratitude to see my relatives surround my child with love - the same love, the same dishes, the same foods, the same people that surrounded me when I was her age. So, so grateful.

I m grateful for my chosen family in Portland. While I was at their house for Thanksgiving dinner, their college boy was 3000 miles away at my family's house for dinner. I am thankful for Skype so we could all be together for awhile with the help technology.

overachieverism and procrastination...story of my life. (thanks for putting words to the maddening malady)

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