To be honest, gratefulness isn’t the first emotion to come to mind on Thanksgiving this year. That space is, sadly, reserved for grief now. I hope that won’t always be the case. But on this first anniversary of my mother’s death from cancer, I find her absence is the first thing that comes to mind.

My mother, though, was not one to dwell on absence, and so I, too, will look for the joy in this season.

My dad, my mom, and I. August, 2010

Here are the writerly things I am most grateful for this year:

10. An office that I love. The walls are filled with images, many of Mom, that inspire me, and the shelves hold the books that challenge and inspire me.

9. My cats. One of them almost always sleeps in the chair beside me as a I write. There’s something powerful about putting my hand on soft, warmness as I think.

8. Candles. As part of my writing practice (see my post about this on Jennifer Luitweiler’s blog today), a small candle gives me focus and ritual to make that time special.

7. Pens. The pen my friend Jansen made is special – hand-turned, precious. But pens with flowing ink that make my ideas tactile, those are important, too.

6. Writing Prompts. My friend Jill gave me this great gift – The Storymatic – this year, and it has not yet failed in getting me into a new place in the book.

5. Warmth. My friends Laurie and Jack gave me this great little fuzzy thing (that’s its technical name) that smells of lavendar and holds heat like a waterbottle. I put my feet on it every morning.

4. Social Media. This year, Twitter and Facebook have brought me new friends and new ideas.

3. My father. This man has given me a home while I grieved. He has given me purpose when I felt I had none. He has been my biggest champion and my constant hero.

2. My friends. These people have held me up when I couldn’t bear my own weight. They have encouraged with hugs and likes and notes. They have been my listeners and my readers (this includes each of you.) In so many ways, they have been my life line.

1. Finally, I thank my mom, Ruth. What I wouldn’t give to have you here, breathing, laying your cool fingers on my shoulder as you pass. But in your absence, I have found so much. Thank you for teaching me what it is to carry on and to find the joy.

In this year of grief, where words were sometimes the only respite, I have learned to live my vocation; I have become, not just called myself, a writer. For this, I am beyond grateful.

What are you grateful for in your writing life this year?