New Castle News

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November 25, 2013

Lisa Madras: Thankful for opportunities to say thanks

NEW CASTLE — Do you celebrate the things you do have?

A few weeks ago I asked you if you ever celebrated the green lights. I guess this is pretty close to the same question, but since it's Thanksgiving week, I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask again.

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a day all about huge quantities of food, the start of the Christmas season and, of course, counting our blessings.  Like most everyone, my family would always begin the holiday meal by sharing something we were each thankful for.  

I remember how uncomfortable this always made me feel, because as open as I am with my sentimentalities as a writer, I'm precisely the opposite in face-to-face interactions. (Let's face it, it's a lot easier to expose your vulnerabilities while hiding behind your computer monitor.)

So I would come up with something acceptable enough or funny enough to pass muster and dive into my plate of mashed potatoes and gravy, thankful, ironically, that my moment of thankfulness was over.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for plenty of things. I just don't like saying it out loud. Sound strange? Well, think about this: In every super-hero movie and comic book and television series that has ever been made, how does the villain bring down the hero? By finding out his vulnerability and taking it from him.

Then Spider-Man has to decide between saving Mary Jane or a train full of innocent civilians, or Superman has to rescue Lois Lane, who has a bomb strapped to her leg and is ON a train full of innocent civilians. Either way, if someone takes away what I love most, it doesn't bode well for the good citizens of Gotham City, because I can't fly or shoot webs out of my fingertips, and my version of the Batmobile is a Ford Focus that won't even keep all four tires on the road when it rains.

In other words, I can't risk losing what I love. Maybe it's because I've lost so much already, and I wake up most days with the knowledge that I'm one brief Bat-signal away from slipping down into the sewers and training an army of umbrella-toting penguins to be my minions. (The villains all started out as good guys, you know.)

And so I hide what's close to my heart, squirreling away the thankfulness to a secret place that's well-hidden from all the bad guys of the world.  And while I do this because of some strange neurosis, we're all guilty to an extent, don't you think?

How often do we do this without even realizing that we are? When was the last time you told someone that you love them — not just the three little words, but why? And not the dismissive kiss on the cheek and the rushed "I love you" as you scurry out the door for work, but a real conversation about how you love them, and why you love them, and why you're thankful for them.

Maybe it's not a person you're thankful for, but a nice house, or a crappy house, or the latest smart phone? How about just how easy your life is, even though it seems so hard sometimes? Maybe it's your good health (trust me, you'll appreciate that when it's gone) or your shiny hair or a pair of fluffy white kitties that shed on EVERYTHING including your dinner, but always climb up on your lap and purr themselves to sleep even after you've accidentally stepped on their tail for the billionth time that week.

I'm not suggesting that you talk to your cell phone or your house. Real, true acknowledgment is the key — once or twice or 200 times a day, just like you're sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and coming up with the best answer at the table. If you lose sight of these things, you're in very grave danger of losing sight of yourself.

If you're brave enough, share your thankfulness with everyone who deserves to hear it. And if you can't? Well, you could always put it in a blog.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! And in case I've never mentioned it, thanks for sticking with me. If it weren't for you, my story would be nothing more than empty words on a page.


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