Every Thanksgiving my entire family comes together to celebrate what has become my favorite holiday. It is our tradition every year to take turns saying what we are thankful for. It takes a long time as there are usually 25 of us, but it is such a treat to hear people say what they are grateful for and what has made them happy over the past year. There are always tears, a lot of laughter, and a sweet feeling of family camaraderie. This year, a few of the speeches weighed heavily on me and made me reflect on what really matters in life.
My younger brother started the evening off with an announcement that he and his wife, Sally are expecting another little one in May. This was the best news of the night, especially since it was only 5 weeks ago that he nearly lost his only child in a freak accident that still baffles my mind. My little niece is a joyful addition to our family and we count our blessings that she not only survived but is happy, healthy, and continues to be a bright light in each of our lives.
When it was my son's turn. I choked up with what he had to say, because I didn't realize the profound impact the Isla Vista shootings, that took place Memorial Day weekend this year, had on him and his classmates. The impact of that night was far-reaching. Although he knew people who witnessed the shootings, he is so grateful that he and his friends were not physically harmed.
But the best speech of the night, in my opinion, was the one my daughter gave. In addition to saying what we were thankful for, each of us had a different question to answer and the question she had was "what is your favorite family memory?" If she had been asked that question three years ago she might have said that her best memories were those that happened in Europe or Hawaii. Now, she says that some of her fondest memories were those that took place with her father when he was in the hospital for three months. It didn't matter that she was inside the walls of a hospital-an inherently sad, and depressing place-she was just grateful to spend some quality, one-on-one time with her "Diddy." She summarized by saying that it isn't what you have or where you go that matters, but who you get to spend your life with...that is what really matters.
It dawned on me that each of the people who's speeches impacted me the most were the people who nearly lost a loved-one or someone dear to them, and much like myself came face-to-face with what could have been a devastating loss. But what was special was the epiphany each of them had about what really matters. Sometimes it's the small and simple things shared with those that we love, that can give us the most gratification. I know for me my "bliss" is as simple as snuggling up with my family talking or watching a TV program that we all enjoy. That's what make me the happiest...something so simple, yet so beautiful.
I think that is the way it is for most people. Once they figure out what is truly important to them, and they live it, then happiness is sure to come.