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Getting Back into Gratitude

by Jo Wilkie

Thanksgiving rocked this year, Yoginis. Seriously good times, like I’ve never had before. First things first, I did all the cooking for the first time in my life. I’ve never felt compelled to do the complete, crazy, table-full of over-abundant goodness. I’ve preferred to eat with family or neighbors… but of course, being in Rome, what’s a girl to do?

Invite some guests and do it yourself, that’s what.

After hours of consultation with my Dad, step-Mom, and Mother, I had the final menu planned. I even bought an American turkey. Just to be safe. I just didn’t know if Italian turkey would behave the same way in an oven… anyway, with a flutter of nervousness in my belly, I set to work making pie crusts and butterflake rolls last weekend, and, if the rave reviews are any indication, I did my great-grandma proud. The turkey and stuffing were both sweet and juicy, just as it should be. The veggies were perfectly done to a tender crisp yumminess, not to mention the creamy goodness of the mashed potatoes and gravy. The best part for me was hearing the rapt silence around the table as everyone savored the pumpkin-pecan pie with fresh whipped cream (that had my Mother’s secret ingredient).

Perhaps you wonder how my gluten and dairy-free-ness held up under the intense pressure of the holiday. Well, it didn’t. I decided to enjoy the friggen holiday and eat all the delicious food I made. Perhaps enough time has passed since the procedure, but it seemed to be okay. Not perfect and not something my body would be able to handle every day, but oh, the sheer joy of eating pie and rolls and stuffing.

I reflected deeply while I was cooking. Reflected on all the blessings that make up the tapestry of my life, and my heart was filled with a gratitude that defies description. It felt timeless and endless. It felt so good.

Of course, first and foremost, I am grateful for a healthy, spirited daughter and a loving, devoted husband. Given my dating track record, it is truly miraculous that Erick waltzed into my life and whisked me off to Idaho.

Living in Italy is amazing. I love being here so much. The food and the culture have captured my heart. From the crazy drivers, to the defensive walking, it is so full of dynamic connections between people. Going back to DC a few weeks ago really brought that home for me. I missed the chaos and the humanity of it all.

Related to that is my job at the Embassy. It could have been any position, but it just so happened it ended up being a position that I actually enjoy so much that I would like to do similar work when we return to the States. That is wild serendipity is what that is, Yoginis.

I’ve spoken before about how my ongoing pain and illness have proven to be a great teacher and a blessing. I have learned patience and surrender in new ways – I am a better person for having experienced all that I have in the last year. I’ve written oodles on this already – enough said.

The more mundane things that bring happiness to my heart right now are the holiday music playing on the classical music station here, the fake Christmas tree that we put up last weekend (it’s so gorgeous!! I can’t believe it!), Susanne’s darling holiday clothes, our growing list of holiday events to attend and put on, and, finally, a Christmas trip to Austria to pack for.

But of course, gratitude isn’t simply about recognizing all the good things we have, but seeing the blessing in the dark circumstances. Take some time during the holidays to reflect on some experiences that you’ve always viewed as negative and look for all the blessings that were a direct result of the difficulty. See what you find and see if you can continue to think of difficulty in the same way…

Many blessings to you and your families during this holiday season,! In gratitude for all the wisdom you share with me…

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