MATTHEWS: Thankful at Thanksgiving

Price Lake reflects fall foliage as the sun rises along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Like everyone else, my year has been filled with highs and lows, but here lately all I’ve been able to dwell on is the lows.  

I lost my dad in June after a long battle with kidney disease. Not that mom and I were under any delusions about his health, but nothing ever prepares you for the loss of a loved one.  

Also, I found out in October that my mom had colon cancer, which threw us both for a complete loop. She’s recovering well from her surgery, thankfully, but there are still some concerns and unanswered questions that we’ll need to address at her follow-up appointment, where we’ll also find out the next steps to take. If you’re the praying kind, they would definitely be appreciated.  

It’s easy to let the “lows” in life consume you. It happens to a lot of us all the time. And even when we’re experiencing the “highs” of life, some of us are still on the lookout for the inevitable black cloud that lurks off in the distance, waiting to make its dreaded appearance just when you least expect it.  

But since it’s Thanksgiving week, like a lot of people reading this it’s got me thinking of what I should be thankful for this year.  

So, in no particular order, here’s my list.  

I’m appreciative of our military (and their families), who put it all on the line every day so we can remain a free country.  

I’m very grateful for our first responders, our nurses, and our doctors, all of who have been through so much since the coronavirus pandemic started but who still show up for work every day in hopes of helping complete strangers get the care that they need.  

I’m thankful to be able to continue my writing career mostly on my own terms, something ten years ago — when I was working an administrative job — I had pretty much given up hope of ever happening.  

I’m able to provide for my family and more or less have been able to set my own schedule. I’m also at the point in my life where if I need to take a little time away for personal reasons, I can do that. The people I work with have been incredible from the start as well as understanding whenever I’ve been unexpectedly called away. When you’re working for yourself, these things mean everything.  

I’m also very thankful for neighbors who care, and who really stepped up after my dad passed away and then after my mom’s diagnosis. Their support, kind words, and prayers have meant the world to my family.  

I’m also immensely grateful for my family, who mom and I have been able to lean on (and vice versa) when times have gotten tough, which has been a lot this year.  

This process has made me re-learn how important it is to not look too far ahead, to simply take one day at a time and enjoy the simple things in life. The preciousness of life is something one should try to never forget in the hecticness of each day that goes by. It’s easy to lose sight of that, but at the beginning of each day we should thank God for allowing us another day in this world, to make our mark, to appreciate the beauty of it all.  

This Thanksgiving, no matter whether yours is big or small, take a moment at some point to step back and appreciate what you have, all the love in the room, and bottle that memory up so you can remember it on another day when those “lows” and black clouds threaten to darken your mood.  

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.  

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.