A Lesson in Thanksgiving

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

My husband and I have many blessings to be thankful for. We are both healthy, have a new home, no debt, and basically a blank sheet to begin writing our lives upon.

Unfortunately, this blank sheet has been given to us by a passing of a loved one--my husband's father. He was killed in an automobile accident in April. It felt as though I was reading a great novel, turned the next page, and realized the rest never got printed. Where the future pages of his life were left unwritten, those blank pages are now sadly available to us.

In the past, we have looked at Thanksgiving as a reason to eat pie and accumulate great jokes to tell the family.  We always bought new outfits, washed the car, and set out to impress.  This year is different.  Instead of spending money on ways to entertain the family, we are just happy to have the family to celebrate with. Money no longer seems as important.

Money is Only A Means to an End
When you have someone dear taken away from you, it really sets your head back on straight and makes you appreciate the real things in life.  Money is not real—it’s a means to an end.  Whether that end is a happy retirement, a college education for your kids, or a new pair of running shoes, the money is never the actual goal. 

While it's important to have goals, hopes, and dreams, you can’t actually enjoy what you don’t yet have.  For a long time, I took for granted what I had, always focusing on what I wanted.  When you do that for too long, you forget how to enjoy what’s already in front of you.

I miss my father-in-law, and it’s painful to think of my husband’s sorrow when he wakes up Thanksgiving Day, no longer able to be thankful to have his father in his life.  At the table, he was always the first one to say a prayer of thanks for the health of his parents.  When he passed, my father-in-law was perfectly healthy, swerved to miss a deer, and passed away in the crash, two miles from his farm. 

Let This Thanksgiving Be What You Are Thankful for at Your Next One
Is it really what we want to have that we should be thankful for?  Should I be thankful for having the funds available to buy a new car if I wanted one, or, should I be thankful for still having my parents?  Right now, the choice seems ridiculously obvious.  A year ago, however, I’m rather certain I would have added “health and wealth” into my Thanksgiving prayer.  In retrospect, that makes me feel awful.

Around the Thanksgiving table this year, I hope with everyone trying to be more frugal in their celebration, we all sit down and look around.  Those faces we see are what we should be thankful for.  The rest is just décor and taste.  Money isn’t real, it’s just a means to an end, and it won’t comfort you if one of those faces doesn’t make it home.

I suppose this is a lesson we all really know.  The trick is to live like you’ve learned it.  Dishes can wait until everyone has gone to bed.  Don’t just scatter and mingle when you can sit down and really talk.  Say what you mean and what you’ve “been meaning to say,” but haven’t.  Let the talk be of what and who you have, not who and what you want. 

Let this Thanksgiving be what you are thankful for at your next one.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and may it be one that makes the upcoming year better and more fulfilled.

Photo Credit: WWWorks

MoneyCone's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Thu, 11/25/2010 - 12:28 Comment #: 1

Jessica, sorry about your loss. Money and things are replaceable, family isn't. Thanks for reminding us that it shouldn't take a loss to appreciate what we take for granted.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

retirebyforty's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Thu, 11/25/2010 - 17:20 Comment #: 2

Thank you for sharing. Family is the most important thing in the world.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Shaun's picture

Shaun wrote:

Thu, 11/25/2010 - 22:19 Comment #: 3

Thanks for sharing your story Jessica, I'm also sorry to hear about your families loss. Family and loved ones are the things that really make us wealthy. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here, but I hope you have a really great time with your family this year.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey's picture

Margaret Reyes Dempsey wrote:

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 02:15 Comment #: 4

This was really beautiful, Jessica. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 15:41 Comment #: 5

Thank you for your condolences, everyone. I hope everyone had a joyous Thanksgiving. (Shaun, I hope you simply had an amazing non-Thanksgiving day--hehe.) You guys are all great, and it was nice to receive your comments throughout the day.

Digital Dame's picture

Digital Dame wrote:

Sat, 11/27/2010 - 17:54 Comment #: 6

My deepest sympathies for your loss. The first year of holidays with that empty chair are the hardest. It sounds like you have your priorities in order. Things don't make us happy, there's nothing more important than loved ones in our lives. I hope you had a wonderful day with all your family and friends.

InvestItWisely's picture

InvestItWisely wrote:

Sat, 11/27/2010 - 22:40 Comment #: 7

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. That was a beautiful post, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. Money is important, but it's important not in and of itself, but because we can use it to help others and help ourselves. The ends are in these relationships that we share with other people, and in some ways you can consider those relationships to be a measure of true wealth.

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Sun, 11/28/2010 - 04:30 Comment #: 8

Thank you for your support. You both are quite right about the empty chair and the true measures of wealth. :)