Giving Thanks In Tough Times

graphic by  NMCIL ortiz domney (flickr)

graphic by NMCIL ortiz domney (flickr)

Ever have a year where Thanksgiving just made you feel like a bad, ungrateful, ________ person?  You know, when things are so bad that you can’t get past the suffering to admit you’re thankful for anything?  I’m afraid that there are people out there every year that feel this way.  The holiday season can be really tough.  We’re supposed to be thankful, happy, merry, joyful, and celebratory.  We’re supposed to exchange gifts and cook fancy meals.  But some years the very thought of buying (or frankly, receiving) a gift is overwhelming.  Some years you may just want to crawl in your hole, drink copious amounts of alcoholic bevies, graze on whatever’s left in the fridge or pantry, and wait for another year.

Last fall I was surviving.  I barely made it to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I was thankful (if that’s the right word) for the break from my every day life.  Honestly, I don’t even remember Thanksgiving.  The next goal was getting to Christmas break.  Then the next goal was surviving Christmas at my parents’ home.  It wasn’t a good trip, and I wasn’t in any position to be the good daughter.  And since my Grandfather had recently died, my mother wasn’t in a great place either.

I meant for this to be a more uplifting post than it is turning out to be.  This Thanksgiving is tough for folks across the country who are inclined to “celebrate” Thanksgiving.  Some people have lost a lot of money recently “thanks” to our country’s financial instability.  Some people are following international tragedies such as Darfur and most currently Mubai.  I continue to be worried about poor maternal-fetal outcomes in childbirth, especially in the US.  Why are we not in the top 5?  Why, with all we have at our disposal, are maternal-fetal outcomes declining?  According to the World Health Organization, for example, maternal mortality in North America increased 31% between 1990 and 2005 at a rate of 1.8% increase per year. [1]

Our worries don’t go away just because there is a holiday.  We can’t just sweep all of this under the carpet.  On the other hand, I do have plenty for which I am thankful.  I am thankful for my annoying little almost-4-year-old daughter who just climbed into my bed begging for the umpteenth time to play Dress Chica.  I’m thankful for my home – thankful that we haven’t lost our home in spite of the overwhelming debt load we carry.  (Remind me again how it is that I owe so much money to doctors when I carry supposedly good health insurance??  Tell me how it is possible that an out-patient hospital procedure cost more than $13,000?!?!!)  I am thankful that my husband still loves me in spite of the incredibly depressing year we’ve had.

Yes, in spite of it all, I am finding things to be thankful for.  And in a very significant way, I am thankful for what the past year has taught me about women’s health, about grief, about survival, and about family.  I hope that if you are still reading this, that you will find something . . . no matter how large or small . . . for which you are thankful.

[1] Maternal mortality in 2005: Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank.