I’m always introspective around the holidays. Beginning around Thanksgiving and continuing to the new year, I find myself evaluating my life, my goals, and my relationships.
Last night, when Jim was at work, the kids were in bed, and I was alone in a quiet room, I got to thinking about everything that has happened over the last year. It was last Thanksgiving day that my husband went out to play in our church’s annual Thanksgiving morning football game, the Turkey Bowl. While playing, he broke his finger on his left hand. He’s left handed. And he broke it in such a way that he needed surgery and three months of physical therapy. But he didn’t know this right away.
When he got home from the game, while our turkey was roasting in the oven, I met him outside to tell him his dad was on the way to the hospital with breathing problems. Jim didn’t get his finger checked out that day, because he spent the day, and the better part of the next three weeks in the hospital at his dad’s side. My father-in-law passed away December 8th last year.
In February, I discovered a breast lump. After several tests, my doctor and surgeon determined that I would need a surgical biopsy. I had the surgery, and I didn’t have cancer, but the whole process was still scary.
In May Jim lost his job for the first time this year. We were optimistic that he would find another good job soon, but it wasn’t to be. Since then, he’s had a series of not-so-great paying jobs, and we’ve been without health insurance. Right now he’s doing janitorial work at night for a friend’s company. He mostly enjoys the work, but it’s part-time, and the schedule is hard on our family.
Yes, it’s been a rough year. Then I got to thinking about Thanksgiving. And who can think of Thanksgiving without thinking about the Pilgrims?
The Pilgrims left England in 1620 to pursue religious freedom. They didn’t have it easy, by any means. The Mayflower encountered storms. People got sick. For two months they were at sea, often cold and wet. They landed in America during the winter.
It was not easy setting up their colony. By the time the first winter had passed, half of the pilgrims had died from illness. Yet they pressed on, and in the fall of 1621, they celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time. Despite all of their troubles, they found reasons to be thankful. I think one of the reasons they were thankful is that they had set out to obtain religious freedom, and they had achieved their goal. The process may not have looked like they had first envisioned, but they reached their destination anyway.
What can I learn from this? It’s important to have a worthy goal. I have a few. One that I talk about on this blog fairly often is my goal to become debt free. When Jim and I made the commitment to get out of debt, we had no idea that he would lose his job. Twice. We had no idea that for months at a time, our income would be lower than our most basic living expenses.
Yet, our goal is worthy. It’s worthy of sticking out the hard times to meet the goal. It’s going to be tough. Really tough. But when we send off that final payment, it will be worth every bit of hardship we’ve encountered.
The Pilgrims also showed me that even in the worst of times, I can be thankful. My family is healthy. My God has provided for our needs. The finances don’t add up on paper, but we have what we need. I have a husband who loves me and two very sweet (most of the time) children. There was a day and time when we didn’t know if we’d be able to have children. When I look at them, I know I have a lot to be thankful for.
I’m thankful that I live in a country where I’m free to express my faith in God, where I’m free to disagree with the government, free to express my opinions.
I hope each of you can find something to be thankful for today. As I sit down at the dinner table with my family to celebrate Thanksgiving, I will look into the faces of the ones I love, give thanks to God, and realize that I am truly blessed.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all of you!
My information on the Pilgrims was taken from The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony: 1620.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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