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Last Thanksgiving

By Heather Oman

Last Thanksgiving I was 11 weeks pregnant.  And on bedrest.  And terrified I would lose my baby.

Cramping, spotting, unable to move without pain, I spent the day listening to my mother-in-law prepare the entire meal, which she did with amazing cheerfulness.  I looked out the window at the bare trees in my yard, too distracted and worried to do anything else.  I ate my mother-in-law’s delicious feast, tried to help with the dishes, but then I doubled over in pain and started spotting.  I promptly went back to bed.  I settled back in the cushions, and stared out the window once more.

6 months later, I was back on bedrest, staring at the now budding trees in my yard, trying to remember what life was like without pain, wondering if I would ever be able to move without wanting to cry out, and again terrified that I would lose my baby.

My pregnancy taught me a lot about pain.  And I have learned that when pain is gone, you are made truly grateful.

I used to think gratitude was about appreciating what you have, particularly relative to what others do not have.   Eat your beans, child, because there are starving families in China!  If you don’t like your toys, I will give them away to somebody who does!

I also used to think gratitude came from acknowledging your unworthiness of blessings.  Thank you, Father, for what You have bestowed on Your humble and lowly servants, and we acknowledge Thy Hand in all things.

Maybe gratitude is all of those things, or a part of them. But really, I think it’s all about the pain.  And the not having of it.  In any capacity. The sweet joy of relief.  Such a blessing trumps any thoughts of have vs. have not, stuff vs. no stuff, service to know your nothingness.  This is such stuff as joy is made on.

This Thanksgiving, the leaves in my yard are an eye-popping display of gold, red, pink, and yellow.  I stared out my window this morning as I snuggled with my baby during her morning nap.  I cleaned my house for my mother-in-law’s return, and we have already prepared 2 fanstastic looking pies, raspberry jello, and the yams.  We are ready to party.

And as I pray over our meal tomorrow (today?  Sheesh, what time is it?), I will sing a song of gratitude for the One who can relieve all sorrows, the One who can take away all pain. I will understand what it means to sing the song of redeeming love.  I will feel true gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  And all you marshamallow haters out there, stay away from my house.

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

17 thoughts on “Last Thanksgiving”

  1. Every day we have so much to give thanks for, even if we are in the midst of pain, some days they are hard to see but there they are..blessings and gratitude today and everyday..

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  2. What an amazing contrast you have shared between last Thanksgiving and this Thanksgiving. I thought of the contrast at this Easter between the year before when my step-niece was helping my niece walk by holding her hands and this Easter when she was running around our house in a circle from living room to dining room to hallway in what looked like as fast as her little legs could carry her. Both years she had the pretty dress that my mom bought her and this Easter she was joined with a baby sister with a near matching dress. I love traditions. I love the absence of pain. I think gratitude is be grateful for what you are spared and what you have. I have been spared so much physical pain in my life and yet have been in contact of those who have suffered so much physical pain. This has reminded me of how blessed I have been in that regards. And I don't have tolerence for physical pain so I am continually grateful for its absence. Thank you for the beautiful reminder though. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!!

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