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Thanksgiving Blessings

When I was growing up my mother often said, “The only thing in life that’s certain is change.” Over the years these words have resonated with me to varying degrees depending on the happenings of my life at a given moment, but they rang especially true for our family this holiday season.

We were set to go out of town for Thanksgiving when we received the unexpected news that our daughter had to have surgery. Rather than hopping in the car to visit family we found ourselves unpacking for vacation and packing hospital bags instead.

The sheer disappointment of missing the trip was an obstacle in and of itself, but facing the fear of surgery and the shock of the situation was more than we bargained for. Now that some time has passed and I’ve had a minute to reflect on the experience from beginning to end I’m aware of the role of grace in helping us manage these unforeseen obstacles.

Grace can be simply understood as the good will of others or lovingkindness. As a parent I strive to balance the excitement of the holiday season with the responsibility we have to share our resources with others.

Throughout the ordeal of the last few weeks I’ve been aware of the lovingkindness present in our lives and am so thankful to be part of a community of individuals who truly look out for one another. I also realize it’s been such a blessing for our children to have been the recipients of the compassion of others so they learn caring for others is just what you do.

When my daughter was in the hospital the attentiveness of the nurses, doctors, and child life specialists was second to none. They went above and beyond to make her as comfortable as possible. We had friends leave gifts on our doorstep to cheer her up, classmates offer to help carry her belongings upon her return to school, and teachers make accommodations so she’s been able to participate in activities she would not have been able to without some thoughtful engineering. I received numerous concerned text messages and phone calls as the news spread. What meant the most was when a parent at our school reached out and empathized with the situation. She said, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. It must be so hard.” The truth is that we all do what we have to do, but YES it has been hard. Her words and understanding were so validating and reminded me that we’re not in this alone. I’m thankful for the consideration of others, because I can refer back to these days when we’re called to show that same selflessness to others. We’ve been reminded every cloud has a silver lining, which is an absolutely priceless gift.

So as we trudge forth during the busy days ahead I encourage us all to pause and reflect on the blessings in our lives. Take time every day to recognize something for which you’re grateful and encourage your children to do the same even when times are tough. These are the gifts that will truly last a lifetime.

Dr. Carmen Anderson is a School Counselor at St. Mary’s School, a private International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, located in south Orange County, dedicated to providing the best education possible for Preschool, Elementary and Middle School students. Carmen Anderson earned her B.S. degree in Psychology from Santa Clara University and later her M.A./Psy.D in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. For more information about St. Mary’s School, visit www.smaa.org.

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