Two years ago, my wife, Jill, took a genetic test and discovered she has Huntington’s disease. Thanksgiving wasn’t the same that year.
Last year, two events occurred that made me feel as though Mike Tyson had punched me in the gut: My daughter took a genetic test and found out she also has Huntington’s, and my sister died on Nov. 1 after a tree fell on the car she was in. Needless to say, Thanksgiving wasn’t the same last year, either.
This year has not disappointed, too. A couple weeks ago, I took a COVID-19 test and found I have the dreaded infectious disease. The pandemic has devastated economies, lives, and plans. For many across the country and the world, Thanksgiving won’t be the same this year.
Just because it won’t be the same does not mean it can’t be special.
It’s easy to throw a pity party when death and illness seem nearby. It’s also easy to despair when sad events occur. Many people may be unable to see family members this year for Thanksgiving. The families of more than 250,000 people across the country have been impacted by COVID-19-related deaths. Most people I know are weary of all the chaos.
Yet, I don’t plan to be down during the upcoming holiday.
Following are some helpful tips I hope will make this year’s Thanksgiving the best ever. I share them to inspire.
1. Rather than focusing on what is missing in my life, I plan to give thanks for what I have; for instance, my wife and daughter are still alive. Heck, I’m still alive. Thank goodness! With that in mind, on Thanksgiving, I will send thank-you texts and emails to those I appreciate.
2. Rather than being sad about events out of my control, I plan to focus on what fills me with joy; for instance, having food to eat or seeing my dog’s tail wag. On Thanksgiving, I plan to make a list of joyful things, and I expect that list will be a long one.
3. Rather than worrying about the future, I plan to be present and grateful about what’s occurring now, in the moment. This practice, known as mindfulness, allows me to be thankful for what a Jesuit priest, Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, referred to as the sacrament of the present moment.
Learning to become grateful has been one of my biggest lessons since my wife and daughter were diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. It is so easy to take others, and life in general, for granted. But by constantly taking the time to discover and acknowledge the people and the things that fill me with gratitude and joy, I have become more aware of the importance of giving thanks.
This Thanksgiving, I won’t have the time to be sad or to despair. I will be too busy giving thanks.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News 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 Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.
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