For the past several Thanksgivings, I’ve attended a fundraiser at my gym for Food Lifeline. I get to take a spin class on the holiday, people in need get food: it’s a win-win. I pedal furiously, sweat profusely and breathe hard. And, with every breath, I tell myself how grateful I am to be able to do exactly this.
The ability to breathe, to walk, to think, to eat, to see, hear and touch is what I am most thankful for this year. I love turkey, the trimmings, and pie. But when it comes right down to it, these truly are the side dishes in life.
This year I count too many loved ones who—in one way or another—face enormous challenges: a sister with cancer, a paralyzed father, a mother-in-law with Alzheimers, a close friend with liver failure, and several friends who have undergone treatment for various cancers. Each has struggled with being able to do some of the things most of us take for granted every day.
So when I sit down for my Thanksgiving meal, I plan to take a moment and breathe deeply, appreciating how it feels when air fills my lungs. I will notice my feet, the way they touch the floor and ground me. Then, as I lift my fork and take a bite, I’ll give silent thanks for being able to feed myself and swallow food, for being well enough to feel hunger and the desire to eat.
As I look around the table at the smiles on the faces of my husband and friends, and listen to the sound of laughter or music playing in the background, I will give thanks for eyes that see and ears that hear. And when I reach out to the person sitting next to me and touch their shoulder, or take their hand, I will notice the warmth between us while I count my blessings for ten fingers that feel.
We, who are fortunate enough to enjoy this holiday, have so much to be thankful for. Our homes, our food, our health, and the loved ones we share our lives with. This year I give thanks for all of this and for the simplest gift life has to offer: breath.