Today is yet another day I’m reminded how quickly time passes these days; it seems like last Thanksgiving was just a few months ago. Last year was a special one for me because I ran my first race (a low-key, local 5k) in several years after being told by numerous orthopedists that I’d never run again and spending 7 months in a boot. I remember proudly posting a photo of me beaming upon completion of the race where I garnered the win and ran a decent time of 18:59, impressing myself and making me really happy. Not only was it a triumph that made me ebullient because running is my passion and the successful race represented my ability to still participate in the sport after all signs pointed to my “retirement,” but it also was a victory over my usual Thanksgiving doldrums. It was a way to reestablish a new, positive view of the holiday; I imagined it sparking a new tradition wherein I’d run a local race each year on that morning. Thanksgiving has long been one of my least favorite days of the years, haunted with painful memories, so I’ve desperately wanted to find a way to reconnect with the holiday in a favorable way that somewhat supplants my sadness surrounding it. It was a step toward taking back my happiness, reclaiming joy. Indeed I did find that the rest of the day, I was in a spectacular, elated mood, which enabled me to enjoy the day in a genuine way that far surpassed that of the previous decade of Thanksgivings.
As I was hoping the race last year would be the “first annual”—establishing a repeatable tradition, it came as a double disappointment this year when I was unable to run (then, not only did I have to suffer the daily loss of not being physically able to participate in my passion on any level, but also the added painful reminder that last year I could and proved the doctors wrong). I’ve been unable to run this entire calendar year. Worse, there’s no evidence that I’ll be able to run again, while there are plenty of sound reasons to agree with the mounting list of doctors who say I won’t. It’s beyond “depressing;” so much so that I’m not even sure what word would appropriately convey the emotional impact (maybe “devastating”?). This year, there will be no running and certainly no racing. There will be no major triumphs, no exuberant high fives with my husband after joyously crossing a finish line, no magical gifts of being able to do the thing I love most in the world, and no major, positive distractors from the memories of this holiday that totally bum me out. Thankfully, this isn’t to say I can’t still work on reclaiming the holiday as a good one and finding other activities—maybe even ones that will become traditions in their own right—that make me happy. It’s certainly harder, at least on paper, and the cards may be stacked against me, but I am in control of how I feel today even if not in control of what I get to do. I will try my best to choose contentment, gratitude, and happiness.