Soon Thanksgiving dinner will be done and it will be time to snuggle up in your favorite quilt on the couch with a holiday movie before the holiday shopping frenzy begins. It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone are traditional choices, but my vote goes to My Life as a Dog. Not a Christmas-themed movie, but since the holiday is Thanksgiving, I think it fits the bill nicely.
How often (and particularly during the holidays) do we compare ourselves to others? When we do, why do we always seem to end up on the shorter end of the stick? We see ourselves as less than, somehow. Our gifts are not as good. Our house isn’t fancy enough for a party. We’re not as talented. Our quilting stitches aren’t as even. Our points don’t match as well.
And that’s why I love this movie. The kid is going through some tough stuff, and he is constantly comparing himself to others – but to others whose luck is so calamitous and dire that the comparisons become kind of funny. By comparison his significant problems seem almost miniscule. “In fact,” he concludes “I’ve been kind of lucky. I mean, compared to others.”
Recently I had a similar experience with gratitude. I found myself in the midst of some problems, and feeling really stuck and fearful. I have read in several different places that gratitude cannot exist in the same space as fear. But honestly, I poo-pooed the idea. Be grateful in spite of your problems? That’s not going to make them go away! But just this once, I tried it. Instead of looking at the stuck situation, I thought about being grateful for the choices I had had the opportunity to make. Even if they had gotten me into this situation, those choices had seemed the best option at the time, and I had had the freedom to make them.
When I saw it that way, the problems didn’t go away. But, seeing one thing to appreciate helped me see others — possibilities, resources, pathways forward. Like the kid in the movie, being grateful didn’t change the situation, but it changed me and my ability to deal with it.
I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. If you find yourself in the midst of problems, I wish for you a sense of peace and the resources to find a solution.
And no matter what, happy quilting!