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Every year I’ve cooked a turkey (beginning in 2012), I’ve ordered it directly from the farm. I pick it up myself from the farm the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

I recently got this update from the farm about my bird:

“You have probably been wondering how your turkey is doing. They are all doing really well, eating lots of grass and organic feed. I move them each week to a fresh grass and they are in their sixth pasture.”

For some, this is TMI. They don’t like to think about the process, they’d rather not know. I get that. After I dove down the rabbit hole of where our food comes from I went vegetarian for five years. I’ve since decided if I’m going to eat meat, I’m going to try as best I can to know where it comes from and how it was raised. To support local farmers who not only care about the livelihood of these animals but who raise them clean and who kill them with honor because I feel it’s important. It forces you to literally give thanks.

I think this is also important for our kids to know where our food comes from and all the care that goes into it. No farms? No food. No bees? No food. It helps them make the connection and be respectful, and grateful. It’s one of the best gifts we can give them.

This got me thinking about all I’m thankful for this year, little and big.

What I’m Thankful For

Watching my kids show their manners. The other day we were at the grocery store and a person was helping us bag our food. Ciro, my two-year-old, looked him in the eye, said hello, and then said, “thank you.” The guy was genuinely happy that Ciro acknowledged what he was doing and said, “Little buddy, you could teach the rest of our costumers a thing or two.” That makes me sad.

I’ve worked in the service industry from when I was fifteen years old and let me tell you, I know how it feels to not be treated like a person. It sucks. I’m grateful for that time because it taught me so much about people. You can learn everything you need to know about a person by the way they treat the waitstaff. I’m thankful that already my kids are treating people like people.

Family. When we first moved to Charlotte in 2008 I worried no one would come visit us. I think about this now and I can’t help but laugh – if only I had known how many would not only visit regularly but would actually move here! My kids have a constant connection with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends who are like family. And when they visit it feels like true quality time. When I think about it I get emotional and feel like a loser but I can’t help it. You never know how things will turn out until you take a chance and let them unfold. I’m so grateful we did.

Motherhood. There are many moments I feel overwhelmed, incapable, never enough. And at the same time, I cannot believe what a beautiful mess this stage has become. How much I love being enveloped in it: the preschool pickups, the tantrums, watching chubby little fingers grab at bedtime books and paintbrushes and utensils.

There were moments, especially in the first year with Ciro, that I felt I couldn’t handle it – like I wanted to run. I still feel this way sometimes. The sensations of both love and despair are so strong that it almost doesn’t even make sense sometimes. It’s like being suffocated, but under a really warm and cozy blanket knitted for you by a much-loved family member. And right as you’re gasping for air they do something to fill your heart up with so much joy you almost can’t believe you get to do this thing, be somebody’s mom. My kids both drive me nuts and amaze me.  Motherhood: she’s a tricky little bitch. And I’m grateful for every messy part of it.

Greg. Our relationship isn’t perfect – not even close. We have ups, downs, and times where shit feels straight-up sideways, to be honest. But he’s the most positive and energetic person I know. He’s a hustler and a go-getter, he is loud, passionate, confident, and open-minded. He makes me laugh harder than anyone. Even when we frustrate the crap out of each other, he’s not afraid to stay and fight and come out the other side. Sometimes I think that’s more important than what the fight is even about in the first place. And there’s nothing like seeing the light in my kids’ eyes turn brighter when he walks through the door.

Anxiety. Weird to be grateful for the very thing that can at times feel crippling. It came roaring back for me this past year, and I’m working through it. It sucks. But it’s also my signal: it tells me to slow down, make changes, take care of myself. It reminds me to dive deep into my mind and feel those uncomfortable feelings and thoughts because it’s the only way to come out the other side. To release those blockages that are holding me down and to encourage me to take chances and grow. How could I not be grateful for that?

Consciousness. There is a definite shift in the way we are communicating, both internally and as a society. Tough conversations are being had. It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary. I’m extremely grateful that our kids are growing up in a time where voices can be heard, and where we’re learning the importance of awareness – both in their inside worlds and the outside world.

And lastly…

Thankful for being thankful. Every Sunday we say a “gratitude list,” where each of us says five things we are grateful for. Some mornings it’s the obvious – our home, each other – but we try to recognize the little things, too.

Thankful for pajama day at preschool. Thankful Ciro shared his toy. Thankful the magna-tiles tower fell over because we learned how to build the next one more sturdy. Thankful for syrup on our pancakes. Thankful for being woken up early, because I got to drink hot tea and be alone with my thoughts before the sun came up. This process has helped me with anxiety, too. There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Did you like this post? Check out the books I’ve written – they make great holiday gifts! 

best gift for brides the real-deal bridal bible

best gift What a Good Eater cookbook


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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