Is it cliche to write a Thanksgiving blog post about being thankful? Of course it is. But I’d feel like a huge jerk if I didn’t express how I feel. Over three weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, including the area of Connecticut where I live. We were without power, water, and heat for almost four days. Now, that’s not at all easy to do, especially with four kids under the age of 7. But we made it work. We all slept on the floor of the den in sleeping bags. We ran around and played outside, we generally had fun. And honestly, it was a good experience. It was cool for us to be without those things. It really made us appreciate what we had. On that fourth night, we came back from Target, and as we were driving up our street, saw that our neighbors had electricity. We held our breath, not wanting to get too excited in case our power wasn’t back on yet. But it was! We ran inside, turned on all the lights, and enjoyed being able to see each other at night without the aid of flashlights. We still slept on the den floor that night. But it was a much more peaceful sleep. We were warm, we knew the power was on if we needed anything, we knew we could flush the toilet anytime we wanted. I remember how thankful I felt laying there, as the kids drifted off to sleep.
I just didn’t realize how thankful I should be.
As we started to get connected to the world again, we saw the devastation Sandy had wreaked across New York and New Jersey. It looked awful. Houses were flooded or completely swept away. People had lost everything.
But it still didn’t really hit me until this last weekend. On Sunday my church chartered a couple school buses and drove down to an area of Queens known as the Rockaways. It’s a little peninsula of Long Island, and as such, is almost completely surrounded by water. On one side, the Lower Bay, on the other, the vast expanse known as the Atlantic Ocean. With absolutely nothing to break up the hurricane, the Rockaways were slammed hard by Sandy. We went down there to help wherever we could, and it turns out they needed help everywhere. Power was still out. Homes were destroyed, ruined cars lined the streets. Six hours later, after mucking out and hauling mud from basements and breaking up concrete and sweeping and all sorts of related activities, we were back on the buses, heading home to our warm, well-lit homes.
That’s probably when it hit me.
I have so much to be grateful for. I have a wonderful family I love. I have a job that allows me to be creative and also keep my family fed and clothed and sheltered. If that’s all I had I should be considered lucky. But I have so much more to be grateful for. And thanks to the Rockaways trip, I have an even greater perspective of that. Just as it’s kind of silly to have one day set aside each year to profess your love for your sweetheart, it’s equally silly to only have one day set aside for giving thanks. But I’m glad we have the one official day at least. I just hope we’re thankful the rest of the days too. And hopefully I never forget. Hopefully if I ever think to complain about traffic, or taking the trash out, or some other minor thing, I’ll think back to the people who lost everything, and I’ll be a little more thankful for what I have.
People are still struggling to get back on their feet. If you can afford to spare anything, here’s a list of places you can donate time and money to. Happy Thanksgiving!