The older we get, the more we have to be thankful for. The older we get, the more we have suffered incalculable loss. That paradox of the wondrously hard existence of life hits most of us the hardest in these upcoming seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As I approach these seasons with young children and a marriage of 18 years, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift of family and what we mean to one another. As I connect with friends new and old at church and holiday visits, I am comforted by all that friendship has meant to me over the years and of how much those friendships have shaped who I am and enriched my life. As I type this from a work computer, I am humbled and thankful that I have been able to mostly keep my head above water for all these years, I am thankful for the co-workers and clients who have entrusted me with this vocation, and I give thanks that I have been privileged to live and pursue opportunity in the land of the free.
And yet my family has massive holes in it from those who have gone on too son. And I have lost friends way too young along the way. And work and obligations have sometimes ended in failure and have taken emotional energy away from other relationships in my life. And the country in which we live seems to be at risk of tearing itself apart.
One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists is “He Went to Paris,” by Jimmy Buffett. It is the tale of the life of a man coming of age who has everything going for him: he is young, successful, and happily married with a family. But as he ages, his life falls apart. He loses his family and almost his life in the war, and with nothing left, he moves to the islands to live out his days. The song ends with him as an old man, and as the storyteller puts it, “If he likes you he’ll smile and he’ll say: ‘Some of it’s magic, and some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.’”
The hard parts of the holidays come for many of us most years. I’ve found it’s best to just let them come but not let them take us away from where we are. Because where we are is alive and part of something ultimately wonderful. And what we have in front of us and within us is worth cherishing, celebrating, and giving thanks for. To those facing a new hard holiday season, you are being uplifted by the thoughts and prayers of so many. And here’s a prayer for you to find hope and comfort in all that surrounds you for which you can still give thanks this season.
Nathan Dickson is an attorney with Jinks, Crow & Dickson, P.C.