What I’m Grateful for This Thanksgiving

Almost everywhere I went this past week, I heard a lot of soul-searching. I heard continued disbelief and continued anger from people who voted for Clinton and/or Trump. I heard people who were baffled that others didn’t seem to understand, or had mischaracterized what they thought to be true.

I had friends who invited me to gatherings saying, “We are organizing. Will you come?” I would say, “Organizing to do what?” They would respond, “We don’t know yet, but we have to do something.”

Do we? Or might this be a moment to sit in what I refer to as a place of unknowing?

In my life, I have been certain about some things and uncertain about others. I have felt strong. I have felt vulnerable. I have seen the path ahead clearly, and at other times, I have stood at a crossroads, unsure of which path to take. At moments like those, I have learned that it’s okay to sit or stand in my unknowing. I’ve learned that it’s okay to pause—to wait to breathe—so that the answer and my knowing can rise up to meet me. I’ve also learned in times of uncertainty or unknowing to direct my focus to what I am clear and certain about, to what I do know.

What I do know is this: This upcoming week is my favorite week of the year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s about knowing what’s important in life: family, friends, my faith, and food. I could even throw in watching football because that will be going on a lot in my house this week (Go Blue!).

Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It’s about gathering. It’s not about wrapping and/or unwrapping presents. It’s about being present in our loved ones’ lives. It’s also such a uniquely American holiday. I’ve often had people at my table who weren’t born here, and who weren’t raised on this holiday, but who have come to love it because it’s about being welcomed to the table. It’s about acceptance. It’s about being invited in. That’s powerful.

So if you are still reeling from our election, or if you are wanting to gather or organize, gather first at the table. Invite people in. Gather with people you love and care about. Listen. Learn. Love. Focus on what you know makes you feel good, and what makes you feel certain. Focus on your gifts. Focus on your gratitude.

I know that’s easier for some than others. But I’ve learned that focusing my attention forwar—on what I’m grateful for, and on all of the love that exists in my life—helps me focus on all the good that is around me in my home. At my table, in my life, and, yes, in my country. There is so much good in our beautiful country.

Today—right now—it’s okay not to know, and to know, all at the same time. That’s life, and I’m thinking about how grateful I am to have one that I know is blessed.

That’s what I’m thinking about this week. What about you?

About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.

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