The following piece was originally published in The Fresno Bee on November 2, 2019.
Hi, November. The silver turkey’s back on my table again and I’m bracing myself for the annual holidaze. Last month, I shared how every October brings me ghosts — how I now live with them throughout the year, how I fend them off. Gratitude is one of my most consistently-powerful weapons against them. Gratitude is also my go-to slayer of all things stressful during holidays.
A few years ago, I started kick-starting my mornings by saying “Thank you for this day” out loud to myself. No matter how sleepy or cranky I might feel (or what kind of difficulties my daughters might have during our daily morning rush) this phrase starts my day positively. I now notice when I forget to say these now-magic words, because those days consistently turn out tougher than others…
With November kicking off another holiday season, my husband and I were once again talking about how fast this year flew by. “Ugh,” he said. “It’s going to get so busy.” I had a quick flash-forward of what I’d be rushing around doing the next two months and then got annoyed like most wives I know would.
“You have a lot to do?” I asked him with a deadpan stare. “Yeah, holidays are busy,” he said. Yes they are, my darling husband, yes they are. And then I wanted to scream the following:
“Do you have to buy everyone’s Christmas presents? Do you have to get the end-of-year teacher appreciation gifts? Do you have to cook or bake or shake and make… anything? Do you have to dig in the basement to find the gorgeous silver branches and lights and decorate our tree and home so our girls don’t feel like they have Scrooge for a mom?” You get my point. But I’ll stop here because I’m not the kind of woman who takes pride in whining about positive and lucky stuff like this.
Typically speaking, many of us moms handle holiday shenanigans solo — or, mostly-solo. And, the holidays can be a lot. (I say this as someone who really does cut corners and resists going overboard for all things merry-making…) If it weren’t for my daily sayings of “Thank you for this day,” I’d be that much more of a frantic mess heading into Christmas.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the season — I’m excited to eat delicious food with tons of butter baked into it, I feel blessed to decorate my own Christmas tree, I’m grateful for having solidified a family tradition for making homemade frosted cookies sugar cookies with my daughters every Christmas Eve morning.
I’m just not always so sure how thankful and appreciative some of our spouses are when it comes to verbally recognizing the manual labor that goes towards creating memorable Halloweens, Thanksgivings and Christmases. What do we want? A pat on the back? Yes.
Spouses, please tell your better halves thank you — that’s all you have to say. Even a plain ‘thanks’ will do. We want to hear it, we need to hear it — hearing it might just inspire tears of joy. For the food, the decorations, the suitcase-packing, the holiday card-making, the getting-all-the-gifts thing. Personally reminding ourselves to have gratitude every morning is a positive personal habit, but hearing ‘thank you’ from our spouses sustains our positive moods and might even create tastier, more relaxed family dinners.
When I told my husband I was writing about this, he said, “Well you don’t thank me for taking care of the stuff I do either.” He was right. I looked at him and said “Thank you” very sincerely. He smiled with pride. And then he told me “thank you too.” Then I smiled. And then we started laughing. Like magic, we felt better… about what, I’m not sure. But something clicked.
Gratitude is a daily choice for ourselves and each other. Choose it. Say it. Your family can thank me later…