I’ve been noticing something this week of thanksgiving, and I’ve been feeling conflicted about it. Especially in Utah, social media has been packed with a #givethanks hashtag, as people post about the wonderful things in their life they are grateful for. Honestly, as a divorced person, it’s been a little hard watching people give thanks for their perfect-looking nuclear families. For me that has been hard, because it is something I don’t have. For one of my friends, it’s been hard watching people give thanks for their health, because with her multiple chronic health conditions, she hasn’t seen a day free from pain and nausea in years. Another friend has suffered multiple miscarriages and has not been able to have her own child, so seeing the ease of moms with multiple children is a reminder of her pain and loss. It is hard not to be a little jealous sometimes at how easy other people’s lives seem to be as you are scrolling through your feed.
At the same time, it’s not a contest, and it wouldn’t be ok to ask people to not share their gratitude for the blessings in their lives because it might be hard for you to watch. People have every right to share their lives, and the mere fact that they do have things other people haven’t achieved means they should, of course, be grateful. Those who wish to share their blessings should not have to feel scared of expressing their feelings because others may have not been as fortunate. Someone always has it worse, so if we used that as the metric for showing public gratitude, no one could do it.
So what are we to do?
This is something I have been thinking about for days now. The conclusion I have come to is this - empathy. If you know you have someone in your life/social media who may not have what you do, take time to make sure they feel seen and remembered. Maybe make a special post expressing gratitude for them and letting them know they make your life better. That small acknowledgment could be a reminder for them that, while they don’t have everything you have, they have you, and you think about them. I could do that with my friend with chronic pain. I have health, so if I am going to express gratitude for that, it wouldn’t hurt to send her a note or give her a call or send her her favorite candy so she know that, even though I do get to be grateful for my health, I haven’t forgotten how hard her health is for her.
So often feelings of jealousy for what other people have comes from feeling left out. If we remember those around us that may feel that way, and take active steps to remind them we care, everyone can have more to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. God bless.