Finding Holiday Gratitude

We can all find a lot to be thankful for… if we just know where to look.

If you're anything like me, the holidays can be quite stressful. Granted it's supposed to be a very joyous time of year, but the preparation leading up to it can be extremely exhausting.
Of course, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. With an emphasis on gratitude and loved ones, this time of year can bring up many questions of self-reflection—the biggest one being, “what do I have to be thankful for?”  
As someone living with MS, day-to-day challenges can sometimes cloud my perception of what I actually have to be thankful for. I can't run a marathon, nor can I walk a city block without feeling total exhaustion, mentally and physically. It can make for a very trying day.

I'm sure half of the population will be gearing up for a much-anticipated trip to see their loved ones over the holidays. However, many of us with MS will agree that a trip may have a very different meaning. Hitting the road can become quite literal. The constant challenges sometimes make me wonder why I should be thankful at all.
There are days when I feel like I’m walking around in a 300-pound cement suit, and it’s easy to want to give up.  When I trip and catapult into to a giant heap on the sidewalk, I don’t know whether to cry or laugh at how ridiculous I must have looked. I will say no broken bones is always a plus.
There are days when I wake up and ask myself why I have to try so hard, and yet, my answer is always, “because I can.”
But this doesn’t mean the day isn’t complicated.

As if the stresses of the holidays don't take their toll on a good day, add to it a body that seems to have an agenda and mind of its own. Life can become overwhelming, seemingly unmanageable. It can sometimes be difficult to believe in the old "mind over matter" cliché. 

When I'm having a day where my crazy body tests me beyond belief, it would be so easy for me to say, "what exactly do I have to be thankful for?”

But when I take the time to think about it, I realize I should be thankful beyond belief. I wake up to a new day filled with friends and family more than happy to help me if only given the chance. I'm also surrounded by the beautiful sunshine, even if it is often hidden behind clouds, and the opportunity to help others get through their own challenges certainly puts a smile on my face.

Whether our challenges are big or small, when all is said and done, we can all find a lot to be thankful for. Going through all I’ve been through in my journey with MS, sometimes it may not seem like it (or look like it), but I can honestly say there’s a silver lining somewhere. We just need to know where to look.
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Christine Kajfasz

Christine has lived with MS for 30 years and is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to find a cure. She is deeply involved in Bike MS as team captain of Team Leap Frog and encourages others living with MS to stay active and strong.