Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
I’m one of those people who likes to take regular time-outs to examine their lives before and after a major decision. I go through spells where I sit back and evaluate current events in my life while making changes and necessary improvements to help me move through life less stressed. The rest of the time, I simply glide.
Around the holidays, though, I always feel a sense of urgency when I take inventory of my life and where I am headed. I’m not sure where that comes from, other than maybe from the fact that the year is ending and I want to know how I performed and how I’ve measured compared to the previous year. Honestly, this isn’t fun, so I don’t know why I do it!
Two things are very true about examining and judging your performance by your own standards; (1) you find you never measure up and (2) there is always room for improvement. You know what I hate most about this process? Knowing that I have to go through it all over again next year, and the year after that, and so on and on…Why can’t I just be perfect?
I’ve just spent 3 wonderful days with my dear family who came to visit for the Thanksgiving’ weekend holiday. My parents flew in from Puerto Rico and my sisters and their families drove in from Washington DC. We all gathered at my baby sister’s home in Marietta, GA. I’m pretty sure it’s been at least 2 years since I have seen my sisters, and about 7 months since I’ve seen my parents (I made a trip to the island in May of this year). Whenever we can get the entire family together in one place, it is a momentous occasion.
Because one of my sisters and I are married to Americans, we had the traditional turkey with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and sweet potato souffle. However, that is as traditional as it got. We had a Trinidadian potato salad, Puertorican pasteles, pastelillos, mofongo, arroz amarillo (yellow rice), ham with pineapples and cherries, and the next day we enjoyed some Ceviche -compliments of my Peruvian brother in law. It was a very diverse Thanksgiving gathering with great food! I’d forgotten how much I love and miss my mom’s cooking!
On Thanksgiving evening, we were surprised with a Puerto Rican Parranda (what you would call carolers or a serenade) from some friends of my sister. That was quite special for our family; especially my parents. The music was loud and lively and the laughter abundant -I love that.
Last night, as we said our goodbyes, we hugged each other as if it was the last time. We are never promised tomorrow, and so we enjoy each others presence to the fullest for whatever time we are given. I remember as we drove back home, feeling the tears swell up in my eyes and wondering when I would see them again together like on this weekend. And so it began; retrospection and re-evaluation time set in once again…
I started asking myself the usual questions and then responding as if I was taking a test or something; Beba, are you happy with the way your life is going? I am. I can always improve but so far so good.
Have you accomplished all you’ve set out to do without any regrets? Hum, still working on that, but I think I’m getting closer…
Have you given of yourself for the sake of others? I want to say yes, but something inside me wonders if I could do more.
Have you made God proud? Ah, this one alwasy gets me. I hope I have and continue to do so. I know I want to with every fiber of my soul.
Spending time with my sisters and watching my parents grow old makes me think of my own mortality but interestingly enough, it also helps me cement my faith. I’ve had the best role models, I cannot complain. For every member of my family, this has been a challenging year but somehow we always manage to move forward and walk in grace. God has kept us and I have no doubt He will continue to do so. As we drove through Atlanta on our way home, I thanked God, again, for continuous undeserved blessings, neverending moments that take my breath away, for unconditional love that to this day, still leaves me speechless and wondering why me? For days full of opportunities to extend to others the same measure of mercy and compassion that’s been given to me, for 18 years of butterflies in my stomach every time my husband tells me he loves me, and for my teenage boys, who melt my heart with widom beyond their years. If only I could freeze time…
There’s a whole lot more reflecting I’ll be doing in the days to come, but for now, I’m simply grateful.