Desire And Gratitude Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Despite the incredibly sordid history of this holiday, what it represents today is a day when we come together with friends and family, celebrate the harvest, and take a moment to focus on what we’re grateful for.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Despite the incredibly sordid history of this holiday, what it represents today is a day when we come together with friends and family, celebrate the harvest, and take a moment to focus on what we’re grateful for.

It’s my favorite holiday and whenever I did one of those visualization exercises at a personal growth seminar about my ideal future, it always landed me in the following scene:

It’s Thanksgiving. There’s a motley crew of chosen family and biological family laughing and talking in the open space that melds kitchen and dining room. The light is golden. There are dogs. There are babies. It’s chaotic and smells amazing and it’s home. It’s nourishment. It’s community. It’s love.

Last year Mike and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time, and both of my parents came for the first holiday my original nuclear family had spent together in 16 years (my parents divorced when I was 16 years old). It was really special and really healing.

Penelope was a little over one, toddling around in her precious little tights and Thanksgiving outfit, screaming with glee when my little sister’s dog Appa would lick her face. My bonus mom helped me set a gorgeous table and keep things moving along despite my overwhelm and lack of foresight (leaving things until the last minute tends to be my MO).

We had friends who’d flown in from LA and New York. Our dear local friends were there with their 3-year-old. My mom’s friend Drew came with his dog Abby.

There were dogs. There was family (chosen and biological). There were babies. The light was golden. It was nourishing. It was love.

I realized as I stood back in our kitchen that here it was. A Thanksgiving just like I’d always dreamed.

The gratitude filled me like warm honey and set me aglow from the inside out. I can still feel it one year later as I write this, like a tingling around my heart.

Last night I sat on the floor of my girlfriend’s house with Penelope on my lap, watching her share pretzels (which she calls pencils) with my friend’s son who’s just a couple of weeks older than Penelope. We live down the street from each other, and we were sharing a meal with our kiddos on a night both of our husbands were away.

I felt that same warm honey gratitude for what I have. I felt so full in the best way.

And yet. And yet…

I have desires that haven’t been met yet.

I want a basement suite for guests and built-in bookshelves.

I want to practice meditation more regularly and to remember God/Goddess more often.

I want to be a better cook, or maybe a more organized one, or maybe a more willing one, or maybe to finally let go of the fact that cooking isn’t my thing.

I want to care less about what other people think and to feel more okay when the people in my life aren’t okay and there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

I want adorable throw pillows for my daughter’s teepee and for her eczema to heal, once and for all.

I want to have fewer (or no) papers on our kitchen counter and to actually do that one-touch rule thing people talk about with mail.

I want to be more present with the people I love and less distracted by my phone.

I want.

And I’m grateful.

Tomorrow some of the same crew and some new faces will gather in our new home, which we own this time, for nourishment and golden light. There will be little ones running around. There will be delicious food and laughter. My whole being will be full of reverence for the life we’ve created.

And I will still want.

Every night at dinner we say grace and ask Penelope what she’s grateful for, and we share a few things each, all while holding hands. She loves the practice so much that she prompts us when we’ve forgotten, stretching her sweet little pudgy hands out to us and saying, “Gace?” with a big, expectant smile on her sweet angel face.

Every night just after we turn out the lights, Mike and I each share 3 things we’re grateful for with each other. It’s the last thing we say just before “I love you” as the day ends. We ground ourselves in gratitude.

And yet, we still want.

On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, may we all stay grounded in gratitude. For the things we have. For the things we’ve created. For those who surround us. For the lessons we’ve learned. For the abundance in our lives. For the many ways we are so very blessed.

And may we still want.

Desire and gratitude are not mutually exclusive.

You can be brought to your knees by how grateful you are for everything and everyone and still want more.

Your desire doesn’t cancel out your gratitude. Your desire is not selfish.

Your desire is a sign that you’re alive, just as much as your gratitude is.

You can hold both at the same time: gratitude in one hand, desire in the other.

Be grateful for what you’re grateful for. Want what you want.

A full heart is a grateful heart. A full heart is a desirous heart. Let both the gratitude and the desire fill you up.


Do you ever feel guilty about your desires? How do you reconcile gratitude and desire in your own life? What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving season? Leave me a comment and let me know!


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