A few weeks ago, everything seemed to be going wrong.
My family had gone on a trip where some hard decisions had to be made. Stress levels were high, and during the trip, everyone had gotten sick. My husband, Derek, had a fever, our boys were coughing, noses were running like faucets, and after a trip to urgent care, I came out with a bronchitis diagnosis, and doctor’s advice to “…take a healthy dose of whiskey mixed with honey to help you sleep with that cough.”
On the day we were due to leave, I was desperate to wrap up our trip and start the drive home. With the strength only an ill mother can muster, I moved at warp speed, finishing what needed to be done, repacking the luggage, and prepping snacks for the car.
At one point, Derek found me in tears while simultaneously wiping a counter and using a hand vacuum to sweep crumbs from the floor. Seeing this, he took both sponge and sweeper and said, “Go get a coffee.”
God bless husbands.
The caffeine helped, but we still left later than I would have liked. On the drive, I missed a turn, spilled water all over myself, and dropped goldfish crackers in the abyss between the seat and center console. As we crossed the state line, we depleted our supply of Dayquil and cough drops.
We arrived in Bismarck after our kids’ usual bedtime and immediately pulled into Chick-fil-A—because nothing soothes the woes of someone who isn’t from around here quite like the crispy chicken sandwich that reminds us of “home.”
After dinner, we checked into a hotel, resigning ourselves to one more night of all sleeping in the same room. In my hasty packing, I had jumbled items we’d need to “overnight” again into numerous bags in the name of efficiency. Where were the pajamas and toothbrushes?
It was one of those days that seemed to dole out one thing after another. We’ve all had these days, haven’t we?
“One of us should go out for cold medicine and cough drops,” Derek said. “Would you rather stay here and do pajamas, or go to CVS?”
Twenty minutes later, I stood in the hotel parking lot, a bag of necessities in hand. I paused to let the icy air open my lungs. This was a hard day, the kind that is easy to label as “bad.”
But instead of reflecting back over this bad day, I only felt peace and gratitude. All considered, there had been more calm moments, than chaotic. There had been more good moments than bad.
I was overwhelmed by all the good this day had held: a dependable car; money in the bank to buy gas, book a hotel room, pay for cough drops, and order a milkshake with dinner; enough car snacks to spill some and still have plenty to consume; clean water.
How could I be cranky when I was headed back to a place I loved calling home? How could I be angry when I’d spent the whole day in close proximity to the people I love most?
Why wallow in sadness over hard decisions, instead of rejoicing in gratitude for the freedom to decide? Why mourn another night away from my own bed when I could be thankful for clean sheets, kind staff, and complimentary breakfast?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have thought often about this hard day, and this moment of clarity. It’s a reminder that thankfulness is a perspective. Gratitude is always possible, but sometimes it takes more intentionality than others.
In a place like Minot, Thanksgiving can stir lots emotions. I’m aware that many in our city did not choose to live here. Some may not even like it here. Some are grieving holidays away from family and loved ones.
I get it.
But I also believe we are strong enough to choose our perspective, to opt for intentional thankfulness instead of disdain.
My hope for all of us this Thanksgiving—and throughout the holiday season—is that we would have courage to create our own narrative. Instead of settling into an attitude of greed or grumpiness because things don’t look how we may have envisioned, let’s be brazenly grateful.
Soak up these winter days. Go to the tree lighting ceremony. See the reindeer. Head to the Dickens Festival. Shop small. Drive through Oak Park. Attend the symphony’s Christmas performance. Do any of this, or all of it, or something totally different. Savor these holiday days in Minot.
There is plenty of good in the here and now, let’s be intentional enough to see it, and humble enough to be thankful.
For more positive perspective and tips for loving life in Minot join me on Instagram (@amy_allender) and Facebook (@amyallenderblog).