The Thanksgiving List


Becky and her valentine's gift from Jon Alex


The holidays are a stressful time for special needs families. Then again, when is it not a stressful time for those of us raising a child with special needs? Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of reflection and gratitude. It’s supposed to be a time to offer up thanks for all the wonderful things and blessings in our lives.

You see it all over Facebook this time of year. People making, and then sharing, lists of what they are thankful for this season.

Let’s be honest though. There are a lot of special needs parents whose struggles challenge them to come up with any sort of list this time of year. Deep down in our secret place, choosing to be in an attitude of gratefulness can be a challenge.

The Dark side beckons, teases, and whispers alluringly into our ears. And this time of year when the days are short and the nights are long, it’s so easy to climb into the pit, curl up, and never want to leave.

So here’s what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

1)    I am thankful for every mom and dad of a child with special needs who stuck it out despite the odds and are raising their child together.

2)    I am thankful for all the dads who choose to be involved and engaged- and who refuse to be a “vacant dad.”

3)    I’m thankful for every single parent out there raising a child with special needs alone- and doing whatever it takes to find the time and resources to do so.

4)    I’m thankful for all the bleary-eyed, sleep deprived moms and dads who are dying to themselves daily and laying down their lives for their children.

5)    I’m thankful for the parents working multiple jobs to pay for therapies, medical bills, and the day-to-day expenses of having a child with special needs.

6)    I’m thankful for every mom who through a muffled pillow cries herself to sleep at night so her kids won’t hear her, and then gets up in the morning to boldly face the world.

7)    I’m thankful for every parent who chooses to believe his or her child is wonderfully made, created for a plan and a purpose, and destined to glorify God.

8)    I’m thankful for every special needs family who says, “This is our normal, and this is just how we roll!”

9)    I’m thankful that God chose us and then He called us to be parents of a child with special needs.

10) I’m thankful for every special needs child who teaches us the essence of grace and unconditional love. In other words, who reveal to us the very nature of God himself.

11) I’m thankful God does not make us walk down this path alone, but goes before us, alongside us, and behind us.

12) I’m thankful God will never leave us, abandon us, or stop loving us.

13) I’m thankful for that coming day when He will wipe away all tears and sorrow. There will be no more death or pain, for He will make all things new.

14) I’m thankful that autism, cerebral palsy, Downs, seizures, and every other special needs will cease to exist in one glorious moment.

15) And I am especially thankful for all of you. The simple thing to say is, “I get it.” I am one of you, and I’m thankful that we are doing this life together. You are all super heroes. Mom, dad, and your children—you inspire me, encourage me, teach me, and bless me.

16) I’m thankful that I get to live in the same house as Wonder Woman and Superman.

Happy thanksgiving. You are chosen and most highly favored.

--Jeff Davidson