Giving Thanks Even When It’s Hard

12:23PM Nov 27, 2019
farm sunrise cornfield Iowa morning horizontal
Still, it’s OK to dance while mourning – especially tomorrow.
( JoAnn Alumbaugh )

Tomorrow. Thanksgiving 2019. It’s supposed to be a good day. One marked with laughter, praise and giving thanks. But if I’m honest, it’s going to be a hard day. This has been the hardest year of our lives, by a long shot. It has been a year marked by loss and challenges beyond measure. I’m not going to get into all the details — because it might have been the hardest year of your life too. But, when I think back over the year it’s easier to count the hard things than it is to count the blessings. And that’s OK. 

Last week, I stopped by mother-in-law’s house to pick up my daughter. When I walked in, she was playing with Barbies. But these weren’t just any Barbies. The Barbies belonged to my husband’s cousin who went home to be with the Lord this year. And it hit me like an ocean wave — this will be our first Thanksgiving without her. I can’t imagine a holiday with my husband’s family that doesn’t include her smile, her bear hugs and her seven-layer dip. 

We’re mourning loss this year and you might be too. Lost loved ones, failed crops and waning profit. This year has run the gamut for farm families across the country. Flooding has forced families out of their homes, and some farmers’ fields will lay fallow for years to come. The ongoing trade war and its impact on commodity prices has meant farmers have become reliant on government aid to survive. A troubling number of farmers committed suicide this year, and thousands are seeking mental health services. In short, 2019 sucked. 

Still, it’s OK to dance while mourning – especially tomorrow. True gratitude is equal parts mourning and dancing. 

Yes, on our farm we lost hundreds of thousands of dollars this year in a black swan event we couldn’t control. We still have a business. Yes, we lost dear loved ones this year. We still cherish the memory of our time with them. Yes, what lies ahead in 2020 is wildly uncertain. January will arrive anyway. 

Let’s make a deal. Let’s choose to remember the hard but focus on the good. This afternoon, I’m going to make candied walnuts to adorn a green salad and a pumpkin cake. Tomorrow, bright and early, we’ll load up and drive 4 hours to my parents’ house. We’ll be surrounded by family, and I promise to do my best to focus on gratitude. What about you?