The kids aren’t up yet. I have to get my shower and get ready for our trip out to Ohio to have dinner with my dad, his girlfriend, and her family. But right now, I’m enjoying this moment.

Gratitude. On this Thanksgiving day, it’s the buzz word. But what does it really mean? I’m thankful today but forget about being thankful for anything tomorrow? Many Thanksgivings have passed in my life where this was exactly the case. Now that I’m older and I hope a few bits wiser, I see that gratitude is as essential to me as the cells that make up my body. Filling my cup every day with gratitude and positivity is the only way to true happiness. Every day. Not just on Thanksgiving. Not just on Sundays. Not just when “things are going well.”

My brain gets this concept but my habits don’t always reflect it. This morning, for instance (on Thanksgiving, ironically), I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. I feel stirrings of negativity within me that I can’t seem to shake. I think, “I need a better way, a cue to snap me out of this downward spiral I seem prone to.” Each thought I have leaves a foul-tasting residue on the tip of tongue and darkens a little part of my mind.

But I want light in my mind, and fresh air. Not darkness.

I opted out of getting a shower right away, even though we’re headed out fairly early in the day. The kids were sleeping. The house was quiet. I had to settle into the presence of this moment before I rushed about. I had to regain the high energy stream and float on it.

The way to the high energy? Gratitude.

And now, here I sit, the steady hum of furnaced air rushing efficiently from the vent, cozily warming the air between the walls of our home, while the air outside is crisp and the ground blanketed with snow. A hot cup of coffee in my hand, its rich aroma swirling the air. The kids are sleeping in, what they need, and I’m sitting with my laptop. What I need. Husband is buried deep in the house, tapping at his keys, too. In a moment, everyone could poke their heads out, come running on fleece feeties across the floor for hugs and morning kisses. I owe it to all of them to be present for them when they do.

I have so much more to be thankful for than not. Love, abundance, comfort, security. Home, meaningful work, and people to hug. All the ingredients are sitting on the counter. The table is set, beautiful and expectant, waiting for me to lay out a nourishing meal of abundance and share it with the people I love.

That’s why I know the negative thoughts are just an illusion, a trick of my ego to pull me into a wasteland and bring me to my knees with pain. My lower self wants me to dwell in the past that cannot be anymore. (The past–with my mom standing at the stove, teasing with my dad, laughing over her burnt dinner rolls, sitting the toddler of the day on the counter to “help” with Thanksgiving dinner, sneaking us bits of turkey, and laughing with her silent giggle over our antics. The past–my siblings gathered around the counter, too, with their spouses and families, all of us where we were supposed to be, where we’d thought we would be all our lives… together.) But the past is over. Thinking about it only stirs up negative emotions of regret, self-pity, and longing for something that cannot be.

My lower self also wants me to strive for the future, hoping to achieve goals and satisfy my ego cravings for success and gain. But thinking too far out makes me hurry through the present moment. I can’t enjoy right now because I’m running too hard to get to the finish line. And the finish line keeps moving.

So, today, right now, I’m going to settle my dusty thoughts down for a minute and praise the moment and the Creator of All who has given it to me. My feet propped on the coffee table, sitting on a worn but comfy sofa, I am thankful. Grateful for all the beauty and comfort and challenge that shows up in my life everyday. Grateful for the joyful moments waiting for me to grasp. Grateful for both the peaceful and the exciting moments. Grateful for the people, all the people, who love me. So grateful for the love, which makes it all worthwhile. This moment, I am not remembering or stewing or worrying or striving. I am happy. I am peaceful. I am grateful. I simply AM.

And here come the feety pajamas, like clockwork, thumping across the floor.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!