The Long Line

How can we find gratitude during life's hard times?

Audio Articles on Hometown Focus is sponsored by Rock Ridge Public Schools.


“How are you doing today?” my friend asks me in a text message. I send him a picture of the Little Debbie Christmas tree cake that is sitting in my hand ready for me to take the first bite of its white deliciousness. I scored a box of them at the grocery store yesterday. I also came home with all the groceries I need for Thanksgiving, as well as eggnog and everything to make Chex party mix. I’m sitting in bed with my red and green plaid Christmas comforter keeping me cozy. The TV is turned on to the Hallmark Channel. I have suddenly become addicted to the silly movies like never before.

Let’s be honest here. The goal is to distract myself and forget about the real world for a little while. Or a long while. There could be worse ways to drown my sorrows for sure. “I am ok, Little Debbie and Hallmark really help lol,” I reply. Tears well up in my eyes. I have this coping skill that involves making dumb jokes when life is at its worst. I am doing much better than the other day, when I wanted to fling myself on the floor to weep and wail, though. Grief—it is horrid.


Give thanks in all things.

I have shared about my study of the Enneagram, which is a personality test. As a type 7, my worst fear is to actually feel my feelings. Sevens will eat the cake, book the trip, or find anything to avoid sitting in their pain. It takes a lot to put us in that place. Yet, here I am. The pain is real.

This was supposed to be this simple write-up on cutesy Thanksgiving thoughts about turkeys and not talking politics with the relatives and remembering to wear your stretchy pants to dinner.

The reality, though, is that we are all in different places. Some not so easy, and I feel your pain. Life is hard. Hopefully, life is smooth sailing for you right now. None of us though can get through this life without hard times. Either we have just come through a hard time, are in the midst of one, or will find ourselves experiencing one sometime in the future. It is inevitable. So although this feels very raw right now, I know that it is going to be all right. My faith tells me so.

Give thanks in all things.

As we prepare to gather with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, our hearts and minds begin to contemplate what we are thankful for. It is not often I share about my faith, but is hard for me to discuss being thankful without addressing the One I give thanks to.

If you believe in the Bible, there is a verse that says to give thanks in all things. It doesn’t say give thanks “for” all things. It says give thanks “in” all things. We don’t have to be thankful for the difficult things. When we are in the midst of the difficult things, we can still find things to be thankful for, even if it is just small things. Look for the small things if you have to.

Give thanks in all things.

There is so much for me to be thankful for this year: family, friends, faith, love, health, and a job. My daughter got married this year, and my little family is growing. They bring me joy. There is a lot to add to the list despite the difficult things that are testing me. There is always something to be thankful for.

As you gather around the table this year, no matter your circumstance, I hope you can find something to be thankful for. As you spend countless hours slaving over the stove and wonder if it is worth it when it will be eaten in 15 minutes, and then everyone will rush off to their in-laws, know that someday you won’t remember the work, but the laughter and time spent with your loved ones.

There will be a turkey on our table, even though one of my children thinks turkey tastes like napkins, and the other one thinks turkey tastes like it has never drank water in its life (no, my turkey isn’t overcooked and dry). Sorry, kids, turkey is the star of the menu. Their comments make me laugh, and I am thankful for that. Laughter is good medicine.

I will be cooking and baking pumpkin pies Wednesday night. It is one of my favorite nights of the year. I love to be in the kitchen preparing with Christmas music blasting and reflecting on the past year with its good and bad. This year, I decided to begin a new tradition on Thanksgiving Eve: pizza and pie. For once in my life, I want to know what it is like to eat pumpkin pie when I have the room for it and not when I am stuffed.

It will be good. And I will give thanks in all things. Happy Thanksgiving!

Jody Rae is a social worker who lives in both Britt and Ely. She spends most of her time on the water or in the woods, where she is always planning her next adventures, both near and far.

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