I think it was in one of Dr. Phil’s books that he wanted readers to list seven monumental times in life….you know, the big things that have shaped you into the person you are today. I’m sure he was looking for both the usual–birth of your first child, marriage, degrees–as well as the nitty gritty–your parent’s divorce, your own abuse or trauma, the death of someone you loved.

Hard to narrow it down to seven, don’t you think? I mean, if you’re living a life instead of just wandering through I would think that seven is a small number.

Maybe if we break it down by stages or categories we can group our sevens. This is on my mind because this Thanksgiving would definitely score high on my seven list. Despite the insistence of the X that we should spend the holidays ‘as a family’ (not to go off on a tangent or anything, but I’m still not clear on what makes him think that for 2 days of the year I should fling my door wide open, welcome him in to potato it up on my sofa and fix him a grand meal all for the illusion of ‘family time’…..but I digress), I insisted that we keep our court-approved ‘parenting plan’ schedule. This meant that for the first time since my college days, I would be without children–or family–for Thanksgiving.

And it shouldn’t have bothered me, except when Adam said the day before they left for their dad’s, “I’m pretty sure daddy will just order pizza or something for dinner…..do you think that on Thursday you can make us turkey and I can help you make your stuffing? I really like your stuffing.” For a longer-than-brief moment I felt like a horrible mom for depriving my kids of turkey and stuffing on the actual holiDAY, even though I knew I’d cook for them when they came home. I felt lousy thinking that we were not enjoying traditions, not making fond memories that we’d talk about next year, not relishing in each other’s company while we tripped on tryptophan and sugar.

So as the big day came and went and I occupied myself with people and things other than my children, I started to realize that maybe this was supposed to be a lesson in thanful. Perspective changes when life isn’t perfect…..like a parent who almost loses a child to illness or accident, the little things become big things. It’s no longer a big deal if they don’t like everything I make for dinner; the fact that they are here, smiling, and want to sit at the table to eat with me is a blessing. It doesn’t matter if they’d rather veg out on the couch and watch ELF (again) rather than doing something more constructive; as long as they lay against me and hug once in a while, life is good.

Maybe my lesson is that I need to be thankful for all of it, not just the perfect bits. Maybe I need to listen to myself when I explain to Nicholas that the rain and bad weather days are good because they make us appreciate the sun-filled days that much more. Maybe, just maybe, a different kind of thankful is just what we needed.