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Thankful for...health

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Thanksgiving gratitude

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I love it because it's uniquely American, because it breaks up the dark afternoons marching up to Christmas, and because of the fabulous food. And, most of all, I love it for it's meaning. It's day and a time just for remembering our blessings. When I look around the table on Thanksgiving, I see a healthy, thriving family. This is no little thing.

I can be counted on to cry at least a couple of times on Thanksgiving day. I've always been something of an emotional sap, but some life experiences have increased the intensity and obviousness of that sap. This embarrasses my children mightily, but too bad. They will make jokes about it for most of their lives, just as my siblings and I joke about some of our parents' idiosyncrasies. Someday, though, they will understand that my sentimentality has a source.

The kids

I look at my almost teenage son on Thanksgiving day (and every day) and I am thankful beyond measure for his continued life. Five and a half years ago Alfs had a major medical crisis and we almost lost him. The images and experiences of that time are scars on my soul that I can't forget. I know so deeply that we are lucky to be here as a family of five, and sometimes my thankfulness that we made it through that time is overwhelming. It can stop me in my tracks - or mid-stir of the gravy.

Saying Grace

Woody has a health issue as well, a quiet, hidden anatomical quirk that we track and measure regularly, knowing one day we will have to deal with it more directly. Every day of every year I think about how to keep him healthy, keep him on track, keeping him marching into a healthy future. I look at my still little boy, deeply thankful for knowledge and research and evaluation that keeps his eyes looking forward.

Sunshine, my perfectly healthy little girl born after a long time of hoping and trying and losing and trying again, looks at me from her chair, promising not to eat a thing because she doesn't like any of it. In spite of the fact she's eaten every element of this meal before, and happily. I look at her and am thankful she's here, expressing normal developmental challenges to her parents. I am thankful for our procreative perseverance, for her safe arrival and continued growth. She, like the boys, has a bright future in front of her.

My husband

Let's be honest - we're hitting that age when health "things" become more likely. And like so many, my husband is something of a workaholic, with little time for thinking of himself. I do my best to remind him to get exercise and eat well, but (hopefully) not in a nagging way. I keep track of checkup schedules and the like. When I look across to my husband on Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for his health - his ability to work, to run around with the kids, to be physically present for us each and every day.

Me, too

Moms often take care of their own health last, and I've been known to fit that stereotype. I'm thankful that for my own longevity and as an example to my kids, that I've started to change that a bit. I've taking care of myself better, working hard at maintaining my health. I'm thankful that I have come to that place, for all our sakes.

Health, whether we realize it or not, can be fleeting. Continued good health - or even manageable health challenges - are such blessings of our lives. As Thanksgiving is a time to count blessings and be humbled before them, I am so deeply thankful for the health of my family. I hope you are, too.

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