Reigniting a Sense of Joy
It’s Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada. I remember that first Thanksgiving after my husband left me. There was very little joy about it. I was supposed to have my family round for a meal, but ‘stuff’ happened and I couldn’t go through with it. Thankfully, Isobel came to my rescue and invited me and a friend to join her family celebration.
I don’t remember too many details from that day. I know the food and company were great, but I was still lost in that horrible fog of despair and was heartbroken at what had gone on between me and my kids.
So, going through Julia’s chapter on reigniting a sense of joy really brought it home how far I (and we) have come in those three years.
This year, instead of the usual turkey meal, the kids and I decided on an Indian takeaway, plus a cake that read The Thanksgiving, Birthday, Birthday, Halloween, Anniversary cake – celebrations I will be missing when I go on holiday in a few weeks.
The food was brilliant.. but what brought me most joy? Watching my eldest granddaughter tottering around on her princess dressing up shoes and then making a book filled with lovely drawings. My second oldest granddaughter pulling on a princess dress (backwards) and matching it with a fireman’s helmet that left her blonde hair sweaty and curly when she finally took it off. My grandson, running up and down the corridor with his ‘big’ cousins, squealing with delight, and then, at the table, trying to get my son’s attention – Uncle John, Uncle John, Uncle John – before telling him about the things he’d been up to. And finally, my four month-old granddaughter, overwhelmed by the noise and excitement of her big cousins when she arrived, but then settling down and smiling when my daughter played with her on the daybed, and me knowing that this time next year, she will be part of that wonderful noisy chaos.
Yes, there were moments when the family group felt incomplete, but those moments, although sad, were fleeting. And the moments of sadness I felt were for mostly for ‘him’, not me.
Three years ago, I couldn’t have imagined such a day ever happening, yet here it was.
In her opening paragraph to Chapter Eight, Julia says, ‘Looking back in your Memoir, you may find that this was a period of creating a family or household for the first time. For some, the present will parallel that time as the ‘second time around’ with the arrival of grandchildren… This week, you will illuminate those things that are joyful for you…. With a light heart, you will uncover many of your true values, and it is acting within our true values that brings us a sense of abiding joy.’
One of Julia’s tasks was to write down 10 things that bring us happiness. I wrote the 10, then, this morning, challenged myself to fill one-and-a-half of my morning pages with other things that do – or have – brought me happiness. At the very top, needless to say, was my family – kids, grandkids, siblings and lost but still much-loved parents. After that, apart from travel, I was pleased to see that nothing else on those pages cost money. It was all to do with people, nature and creativity.
I’m going to print that list out and hang it by my desk to remind me of the important things in my life. The things that bring me the most joy.
And although I still have bad days when I bitterly regret what I lost, I am so very – very – lucky and grateful for what I have and value.
This Thanksgiving Weekend, Thank you, Julia, for helping me realise that!