I will sit, stand, sit again, barely time to settle on the couch in between the dinging of the doorbell. I will feel jangled and nervous and over it well before it's over. And I will think they are all cute, all of these children, and I will see my boys as new creatures in their costumes, though I know it's only a bit of cheap fabric painted to look like the real thing.
The boys will dump out their loot on the floor and become giddy with the sparkly, sugary wonder of it, drunk on the power of owning something normally so sparingly doled out to them. Left to their own devices, they would eat so much candy their bellies would be round and hard like turtle shells. So, I will police their sugar consumption while sneaking off to rip open a fun size wrapper so often that I become the one with a twisted gut and a film on my tongue that nothing seems to take away. It will be my own chant of gimme gimme gimme as I teach moderation yet practice excess in secret, hoping that what my children don't see can't corrupt them.
I don't hate Halloween, jaded as I sound about it. It's not the holiday that's the problem. It's that I have begun to lose perspective. I have slipped into a kind of hazy autopilot mode, where I look without seeing and hear without listening. I feel like I am missing my own life, like I am slogging through too busy and worried and distracted to see the abundance right in front of me.
Tomorrow, the thankful month begins. November heralds the approach of Thanksgiving, with its prayers of gratitude mumbled out over tables laden with bounty. With it cornucopias and its plenty. Thanksgiving has always been one day of the year for me, but this year I am beginning to understand that it must become a way of being if I am to shake myself free of the gimme gimme attitude that always just seems to leave me wanting more.
I have to relearn, when I feel nothing is ever enough, that enough is a mindset. I am blessed beyond measure, and yet I look across my life with greedy eyes, not seeing what I have been given and somehow always feeling that something is missing. I think of that scene in the movie Hook where Robin Williams as Peter Pan sits down at the table with the Lost Boys. To Peter Pan's eyes, the table is bare, and yet the Lost Boys are happily filling their forks and stuffing their mouths. And only once Peter wills himself to see what is there can he finally see the banquet spread out before him.
I am ready to see what's already on the table before me.
So this month, inspired by Ann Voskamp, I am going to begin writing down what I am grateful for every day. I am going to set some basic rules about technology that will allow me to be more present with my family. I am going to get outside every day, for a walk or a game of soccer in the backyard or a lunch hour under a tree with a good book. I'm going to look for a thousand small ways to practice gratitude, ways to slow myself enough to inhabit the moment, and ways to be happy with what I have instead of believing I need more. More food, more time, more stuff. I will look for the enough that only gets buried beneath all of that more.
For this month, I dedicate myself to giving thanks, to seeing the enough that is already here, all around me. This month I am ready to come to the table with new eyes, ready to see the bounty that has been here all along, the plates set, the candles glowing, the glasses full. It's a new tradition for me, a month of giving thanks, that I hope will be repeated, at least in some small way, every day that follows. I hope, if you are ready to begin a tradition of gratitude, you will join me this month in starting your own list and in coming to your own table with fresh eyes.