I know I should be thankful. I know this. I’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life a million times, I pray prayers of thanksgiving, and I frequently talk with my family about the situations others are suffering through elsewhere in the world. But am I really thankful? The answer to that is…rarely.
I’m even less thankful when times are tough. The holiday season often puts me in high spirits, but it’s also a time where I experience more frequent lows. You would think that when the kids are off and there’s no school, and when you’re off as well, that life would be freer—not so! As any parent will tell you, vacations are for more difficult. You have to find ways to occupy your kids, your schedule is thrown off, and you have little time for you. Add to that the stress of the season, and despite one holiday to specifically celebrate it and another that should cause us to remember it, I’m not particularly thankful this time of year.
In This Corner of the World, a film I’ve sung the praises for time and time again, reminded me last week that in the midst of chaos, especially in the midst of chaos, I have much to be thankful for. The movie focuses on Suzu Houjo, first as a child and then into her adulthood, as she grows up near Hiroshima, with action mostly focusing on the years of WWII leading up to and including the bombing. A beauty of the film is that it isn’t heavy-handed in demonstrating the need to be thankful. It isn’t disingenuous in pointing out the need to think about the goodness in our life when the situation is terrible. In fact, it shows how Suzu, who about as bright and bubbly as any character in anime, can’t take all the pain and terror caused by the war. And if she can’t, what chance have we?
But Suzu does endure. In spite of tragedy and impossible situations, she keeps moving forward, though not on her own. The power of family and love helps Suzu in her darkest days, even as the worst is yet to come.
At her lowest point, literally, as she’s in a ditch screaming and crying and hitting her husband, Suzu is stuck in the moment, unable to extricate herself from the pain of now. I’m the same way. When stress, disappointment, and challenges hit, I often crumble; it’s just too hard to endure. But like Suzu, when I’m out of the moment and think about life in general, and all I’ve been given, all the goodness around me, when I’m able to see from a bigger perspective rather than a micro one, I can be thankful, and that thankfulness propels me forward.
If this is a difficult time for you, because of the stress of the holidays, uncertainties about the future, depression, or for any other reason, I encourage you to take a look from the top down and think about what there is in your life to be thankful for. And remember, we’re always around if you need someone to talk to, here on the blog but also through Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.