Grief, Gratitude and a Nose Full of Boogers

CarrotsGrief and the holiday season.


In the last two hours alone, I have bounced about fifty times from being all “Let’s have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving!” to “Here’s a turkey and cheese lunchable and you better be grateful that it comes with an Oreo, kid.”  Seriously. Just bless my inner Martha with a little processed meat and cheese.


It may be advisable for someone to just smack me in the head with a drumstick and wake me up after Easter.  But on the other hand, I might miss something important like making Christmas trees out of recycled material that benefits some really awesome thing that I should be a part of and tell the whole world that they need to do it too because I am just that AWESOME!!!!!!!! Uh….drumstick please?!?!?

This is it.

This crazy, unpredictable, mad-hatter roller coaster I knew was coming…

One where everyone tells you to be grateful and you’re all like, “Say what?” Or you hear that it’s the most wonderful time of the year and you have to put on your best, “C’mon, now.” Because it’s absolutely not the hap-happiest time of your life.

And it’s more than okay.

Let me say that again and a little more pointedly…

For everyone out there missing a piece of them, muddling through and riding the rise and falls…

It’s okay to lean into the ache of grief.

Because the strange truth is when you lean into its depth, something unexpected comes.  You do not become the gratitude grinch like you prepared to be.  You do not become embittered and heartless and cruel.

Instead, when you lay the full weight of your pain into its longing…it answers back…He answers back…with something so anguishing it takes all you have left…something that filters into all your scars and wounds and broken places…something that comes when you, in all your vulnerability, say out loud, “I am not grateful Daddy is gone.”

And that something is gratitude.

A bittersweet perspective that obliterates all the times you tried to manufacture thankful or put it in a jar or paste it on a board. It is not Pinterest or platitudes or paper mache. It is hard won, friends.

Hard. Won.

Because it is a living testament to all you battled and fought and scraped and dug your way through to get there. It is real, it is raw and it is sacred. And it is all that is behind why this year, I am grateful.

Why I’m holding the precious things in life close to me, cutting through the carp and keeping it real.

Why I am grateful for the mundane…

The kisses. The laughter. The tears.

The sisters. The brother. The mom.

The loud. The quiet. The in-between.

The kids. The hubs. The family.

The diapers. The laundry. The homework.

The meals. The baths. The time.

The. Time.

Why I am grateful for real moments…

When my son tells me, “Don’t’ worry, moms come in all shapes and sizes.” (Just bless my yoga pants.)

When I nearly throw the covers over my head and give up but Sophie interrupts with, “I need you to pick my nose full of boogers.”

When I make a delightful pumpkin cream cheese breakfast something this morning and someone announces, “This is only a little bit disgusting.”

Why I am grateful for it all and then some.

But most of all, it is why I am grateful for where the ache leads… a quiet, sacred place where there is a God big enough to hear me say, “I am not grateful that my daddy is gone. I. AM. NOT. But Jesus, hear me well when I tell you I am so very grateful that he was here.”

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