It is the day before Thanksgiving, and of course I had to run to the store to get the ingredients for those foods I am making for dinner tomorrow. People in the store were in pretty good spirits, and there were a lot of moments of kindness to behold as one person allowed another person to pass or helped someone find what they were looking for. I always enjoy moments when I see people work together, which honestly does not happen nearly enough. As a result, I am always especially thankful when I see kindness in others. (But I digress…)
I got to my car, just as another woman arrived at her car which was next to mine. I cannot recall exactly how we started to chat, but in short order I knew that she was tired, that she was grateful that she was not cooking for Thanksgiving, and that her daughter and her daughter’s husband really enjoy cooking and can do it without following recipes. She told me that she is not gifted that way and she requires a recipe in order to produce some good tasting food. She also commented that she was looking forward to playing with her grandbabies. This was quite a bit of information to be handed from a total stranger in a parking lot. I am always amazed at what people tell me without provocation. I also truly enjoy talking to people, so we continued to chat next to our cars. I made some comment about how I look forward to the day when I have grandchildren, and can “give them back” after I play with them. (I mean no disrespect to my children, who I love dearly… just making a quick comment so I could add to the conversation.) She got very quiet and said the following to me: “Hold on to what you have. I am 65, and one day I was looking in the mirror and was shocked by what I saw. I had no idea who that woman was, and I have not looked in the mirror since.” I was a bit stunned by this statement, which as an eating disorder specialist surprises me as I talk about these things daily. More importantly, I wish I had said so many things to her in return. I wish I had told her that she, like every woman, probably did not see in that mirror what others saw when they looked at her. I wish I had added that generally, we are such terrible judges of our own beauty. I wish I had told her that she is so much more than the image she saw. I wish I had told her that getting older is a process and while she may not see the reflection she was used to, it was a reflection filled with 65 years of history and furthermore, we are not our reflection. We are not our bodies. We are the makeup of everything that combines the inside and the outside of us, and all the things that have occurred to develop us, and that what truly makes up who we are, doesn’t dull with the years we add to our lives, as we grow richer and more amazing with each passing year. I wish I had pointed her in so many other directions, but instead, I promised her that I would hold on to what I had, and try my best to appreciate that, every single day.
This Thanksgiving, I hope that we can all work on appreciating what we have, instead of focusing on what we do not have or what we have lost. I hope that we can find gratitude for every part of us, and not pick out every flaw we think we see. I hope that we can give thanks for those wonderful people who are in our worlds, including that very sweet person who stops and speaks to us in the parking lot, or the grocery store or out in the neighborhood. I hope we all take the moment to talk to that person and hear what they have to say, as there is so much wisdom to gain from each person that we meet.
To that woman in the grocery store parking lot, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to stop and chat with a stranger about how you were feeling and about appreciating what you have. Next time, I hope you can hand out that pearl of wisdom while also wholly loving what you have and who you are, as well. I think you are pretty amazing. That goes for you too, reader and I hope you have a wonderful day of Thanksgiving!