Managing editor Heather Inglis defines a word and brings herself to tears in the process of writing it down.

Words by Heather Inglis

My mother and I circa Christmas 2012.

My mom often tells me I’m ungrateful.

No matter what’s going on in my spastic life, I always tend to focus on my bad luck. Yes, I know I shouldn’t do that. It’s not until I’m in the middle of a full-blown panic attack that my mother hears my outrage, and her response is always the same:

“Did you wake up today? Do you have a roof over your head? Are you getting an education? Yes? OK, well, I think you’re doing just fine. Be grateful.”

“But my personal gains are shit, mother!” I think as I physically feel my mental stability caving in around me. I’m 21 years old, on the verge of graduation with no concrete plans for my immediate future, embarrassingly single and, most days, a little down and out. Fighting unhappiness comes naturally to me at this point in my short life.

And it’s not just me, either. I notice thought processes like this with others around me. Some millennials like the idea of instant gratification. In other words, everything needs to happen for us right this second, and if our goals don’t pan out a certain way, we think the world is ending. Don’t believe me? Check with Bucknell University.

So, what do we do with this mindset around Thanksgiving? No, we don’t stuff the turkey with it because this holiday is more than just food, parades and football. This is the one holiday that everyone supposed to think about what they’re thankful to have in their lives. Yes, even those of us who think we have it rough are supposed to be thankful for something.

With graduation a short time away, I’ve been thinking more about the big picture of my life. In hindsight, I have a lot of things going for me despite what I’m dying to achieve. On that note, maybe my mother is once again using the wrong terminology to describe things. I shouldn’t be grateful for all these, if you will, inherent things—I should be thankful.

Being thankful is more than just verbally expressing how much something impacts you or your life; it’s feeling that gratitude in your heart. It’s feeling an overwhelming joy for that impact through every nerve. It’s realizing how great life is and coming damn close to tears because of that fact.

I’m so thankful for my life that it probably should be embarrassing. I’m lucky enough to have the best, most supportive parents in the entire world. We might not always agree, but I’d be nothing without them, literally and figuratively. I’m also surrounded by many amazing friends who have stuck by my side through my highest and lowest times. I’ve experienced over-the-moon love and the worst heartbreaks imaginable, not to mention excitement, surprise and that feeling of butterflies when meeting someone special. I have a warm bed to go home to, easy access to food and water and live in a free land.

As if I didn’t have enough to be thankful for, I’m very thankful to be me. I live a life some people dream of and have quirks and talents no one can ever take away from me no matter what. For that I am especially thankful.

So take this Thanksgiving to look past the seemingly “bad hand” life has dealt and think about how amazing life actually is. Embrace that gratitude with your heart and soul, and be utterly thankful. A wise young girl named Marcie once said her good friend Charlie Brown, “Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.”

So, what are you thankful for?