Our two lands have a connection, Irish-American relations are well documented and many Americans return to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to discover their roots, visit the homelands of their ancestors and meet long lost relatives. 

I can’t claim any American connection, other than a friend who lives in Florida. Although I did spend a few months in the USA during my misspent youth and there was a lot I fell in love with, the American warmth and generosity, their spirit and enthusiasm - the American Dream, you can do anything you set your mind to.  

Of course there were things I found mildly irritating, the inability to find a one person size packet of crisps (or chips) and gaps in the doors of public toilets.  

I celebrated Thanksgiving during my short time in America but to be honest it was just a chance to eat lots and have fun. 

I don’t know all the history behind the holiday but today as a Special Needs mom, this American tradition by its very name strikes a chord with me.

For many people, it’ll be the one time in their year that they stop to give thanks for what they have in their lives, but as a Special Needs Mom I spend the whole year giving thanks. 

At the end of a week I give thanks that my child got to school every day, despite my son’s surgery being cancelled

I give thanks that it wasn’t my child needing lifesaving surgery that day

I give thanks that my son’s condition is life limited but not life threatened

I give thanks that we’ve made it through the first few weeks of cold weather with no hospital admissions 

I give thanks for four hours of sleep a night. 

I give thanks that my son has four wonderful brothers who I know will look after him long after I’m gone 

I give thanks for my husband, my rock, my best friend

And I give thanks for the group of people that support me through our family’s special needs journey.

It strikes me that it is often those who have the least to be thankful for, are most grateful for the blessings in their lives. 

Having a child with special needs has made me very thankful, it’s made me appreciate what many would take for granted. 

So as the American day of thanks approaches, I urge you all to find something or even someone that you are thankful for.

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