I had a hearing in St. Paul this week. I parked a few blocks away and walked to the courthouse. As I was coming down the street, there was a man in front of me pushing a grocery cart full of what looked to be junk. I rifled through my purse and as I came up to him I said, “Happy Holidays,” and handed him some money. He stopped to look at me.  I felt like he was looking right through me.

His face was like a crisp black and white photo – the most beautiful big but worn eyes, skin full of wrinkles, a scruffy beard and what appeared to be a million layers of clothes. He said, “Thanks,” as he then looked down at my boots.  I asked him where he was going on this cold day and he mumbled something I couldn’t understand other than the word, “nowhere.”

I felt like crying.  This was someone’s beautiful baby boy.  A blank slate.  And here he was, in a most difficult world, having trouble meeting the psychological requirements of society and with the inability to be warm and fed and loved.

As I walked away I realized that Thanksgiving is a day like any other day for him.  Nothing special.  Maybe he gets a free meal – but that’s it.  He doesn’t have anyone to hold him in bed or kiss him good night.  No one to ask what he’d like for breakfast.  No one to do his laundry or iron his shirts.  No one to hug him hello or good-bye.

I often get stuck dwelling in the things that are bothering me, forgetting that I have the love of my family and all of you.  I have food and I have shelter.

My brief encounter with him reminded me of the fragility of our lives, of our mental state, of our life choices and of the life choices that are made for us.

Thanksgiving feels special to me.  It’s a time where we really are all  celebrating the same thing – being thankful for what we have, who we have in our lives, and how we can help others.  Friends, lets remind ourselves and our children to be thankful for our most basic of necessities.   And to appreciate the chance to have yet another day filled with love, warmth and food (which this Thanksgiving is Chinese food with my dad!).

I’ve decided that my gift to myself is to focus externally – not internally.  Not to worry about what’s next in my life.  And to give out as much positive energy as I can to each and every one of you this holiday season.

And with that, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  No matter who you’re with or how stressful it may seem – try enjoy it.  You will never have another one just like it again.  XOXO