West Valley Medical Center - November 22, 2016

It’s that time of year, folks. Time for food and football and family and, of course, massive guilt trips. If you’re anything like me, it’s time to reflect on how whiny and awful you’ve been this year, how infrequently you’ve acknowledged your many blessings, how many of your mother’s texts you’ve ignored and how little time you’ve spent giving back to your community.

My sister, Becca. She was the self-proclaimed Best Big Sister in the Whole World and, believe me, she wouldn't let you forget it.

This year, I’ll add to the list that I’ve been remarkably ungrateful for my problem-free pregnancy. Sure, we didn’t get pregnant right away, but some couples try for years and others are completely unable to conceive on their own. I didn’t have morning sickness. I don’t (knock on wood) have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes or even many aches or pains. My baby has been strong and healthy at every visit thus far. We’re worried about money, but hey, who isn’t? At least we’re both gainfully employed and have supportive bosses, coworkers, friends and family members to help us out.

But have I closed my eyes even once in the last 7+ months and thanked the universe for granting me such an easy, worry-free pregnancy? For putting a roof over my head? For sending me such a sweet, intelligent, funny partner for this journey? Nope, not so much. I’ve mostly just found insignificant things to complain about … like, I don’t know, well-meaning people saying vaguely irritating things to me occasionally.

Husband. You guys are pretty familiar with him by now...

I find it’s when you’re feeling particularly pitiful and sorry for yourself that the universe says, “Oh, I’ll give you something to be sorry about.” You may or may not have read my week 31 post explaining that my family was grieving a sudden loss. Well, it was my sister. Enough time has passed now that I can say the words out loud — it took quite a while before I could even type them. She died in an ICU in Arizona on Nov. 3. Thankfully, most of our family was able to be with her at the end, myself included.

Now I know, logically, that my sister’s death was not some kind of karmic retribution for my overall lack of thankfulness. But I think that — for my entire family — it has served as a very cruel reminder that gratitude cannot wait. The universe does not allow us to complain bitterly about our insubstantial first-world problems without eventual consequences. Go too long without gratitude, too long with thankfulness, and trust me, you’ll hear about it.

Kit could be a puppy model, unless they come up with Smell-O-Vision, in which case all bets are off...

So, in honor of my sister and, you know, Thanksgiving, here is a belated list of some of the things in my life I really am extremely grateful for:

  • The 31 hilarious-aggravating-lovely-unpredictable years I got to spend with my big sister.
  • My husband. First and foremost, every day and always. If you asked me to dream up the perfect partner, I wouldn’t have come up with anyone half so good. I truthfully don’t know how I got this lucky.
  • My mom and my dad and my brother and my nephew and my grandparents, who have all summoned more bravery and strength over the past month than I knew possible.
  • My puppy, Kit. Okay, so she smells sometimes. And eats garbage. And tries to kill all living things. But, c’mon, look at her. Look at that face. What a cutie.
  • Look at my friends! We're so happy and carefree and Instagram-ready! But seriously, we really do laugh that much, even when it's not for social media purposes...All of my friends from many different walks of life. I actually started typing everyone’s names, but that got out of hand very quickly. So many generous, caring people in my life … I can almost forgive them for their questionable taste in social acquaintances.
  • My house. It’s itty-bitty and predisposed to mice. It’s somewhat haphazard and always half-finished. Its walls are insulated with teddy-bear stuffing and Taco Bell wrappers (not a joke, I couldn't tell you how they got there). But it’s warm and it’s safe and it’s mine.
  • My job and my awesome boss. I genuinely like to get up and go to work each day and I don’t think I have to tell you how rare that is.
  • And last, but certainly not least … my tiny human parasite. I joke about you more than I probably should, but know that you are incredibly wanted and incredibly loved.

Happy Thanksgiving from Charlotte, Cam, Kit and the mini human!