Putting a Different Twist on Thankfulness
Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Meals are being planned, and turkeys are being purchased. The delicious smells and flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon will be consumed in many homes. And, my favorite part, thankfulness abounds: Family, good health, the food on the table, and financial stability are commonly counted among these blessings.
It’s not surprising that each of these are so frequently thought of. The good things in our lives often get most of the credit, and they are indeed worthy of being counted high on anybody’s list.
While it would be simpler for me to use today’s column to create a similar list of the things I’m thankful for, I’m going to put a different twist on it by sharing what I’m thankful for from a less common perspective.
It may seem natural to be thankful for the things in our lives that are obviously good, but I think there are also some things we can appreciate that may not always seem so great at a glance — blessings in disguise.
Here’s an example: winter. Pretty much anyone that has ever met me knows I don’t like winter. In Indiana, this season is cold and often dreary, and it becomes difficult to move my hands. But for regions where the cold is often a normal part of the year, there are benefits to frigid temperatures and snow flurries.
The native ecosystem relies on the cold weather and would become unstable without it. Much of nature needs a cold winter before it can burst back into beautiful, abundant life once spring arrives. And as my best friend, Kim, recently reminded me, winter also offers a reprieve from the pesky mosquitoes that try to feast on my blood.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d much rather spend the winter months — or all year, actually — sitting on a sunny, white sand beach watching the tide roll in instead of watching chilly snowflakes fall. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find reasons to be at least a little bit grateful for cold winters, even if I don’t particularly like them.
Now that you understand what I’m getting at, here’s a bigger example: spinal muscular atrophy. It probably seems crazy for me to say that my SMA is something I’m thankful for, doesn’t it? Hear me out.
The disease itself is certainly not a good thing, and there are many moments when having this disability causes plenty of frustration for my loved ones and me. After all, it is a life-threatening disease that takes a lot of time, energy, and medical intervention to manage. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t find aspects of it to appreciate.
Having a progressive neuromuscular disease has taught me a lot about life, empathy, and how to truly cherish every little moment. Along with some divine supervision, my disability has helped create a doorway to my dream job, led to some of my closest friendships, and shown me that I have great strength and resilience. And those are definitely things I should be thankful for.
I wrote in my very first column that I believe my disability to be a blessing in disguise, and I meant it. I still believe that. I wouldn’t be the same person without it. So, as crazy as it sounds, I am thankful for the good parts of SMA, and for everything I’ve learned from the not-so-good parts. SMA has become a part of the ecosystem of my life.
This year, as you’re compiling your thankfulness list to post on social media or share around the dinner table, I want to challenge you to put a different twist on it. See if you can think of just one seemingly not great thing you can be thankful for. Because there is almost always a good side to every situation if we just look closely.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.