Last year at this time our household was recovering from a fire–nothing huge, but enough to fill the house with smoke and our lives with chaos for weeks. It reminded us of the many things we take for granted–a functioning stove, clean air–and caused us to feel particularly thankful during the Thanksgiving season. During that time I suggested a brief gratitude activity for you, too, and I thought it was worth repeating this year. Gratitude is good for us and this is a perfect opportunity to practice it. This blog will post (for most people) on Thanksgiving Day. So here’s a flexible thinking challenge for your family–and perhaps for your students after the holiday.
- Name five things for which you are grateful, despite the fact that you seldom think about them. If you are doing this with students, the challenge is to think of things no one else will name–but they must be able to explain why they are grateful. It is wonderful to be grateful for mud or mosquitoes, as long as there is a reason.
- Name at least one thing that is usually annoying, but when you consider more carefully, makes you grateful.
For this year, here are my answers.
2. I’m grateful for cat litter. I unknowingly married the Pied Piper of all things feline. They follow him home. They jump in his car. We currently own six cats. Thus my gratitutde. And my choice of graphic today. Enough said.
3. I’m grateful for all the mostly-anonymous people in all the labs working to develop modern medicines. I would never have made it to adulthood without penicillan. The medicine that stops migraines in their tracks has transformed my life. I once asked a friend to try to track that lab down so I could send a thank you, but he wasn’t successful. I wonder how many of those workers understand they change lives? And how many of us are grateful for the people who made life transforming medicines possible.
4. I’m grateful for my freezer. I’m going to eat blackberries from my yard in February. How magical is that?
5. I’m grateful for trees. In the summer I am grateful for their shade. In Michigan fall they are spectacular. And today, as I sit by my wood stove, trees make one area of our house toasty warm despite November’s early snow and cold. (And yes, today, I’m glad I don’t live in Buffalo, with their 6+ feet of snow!)
It is hard not to repeat my last year’s “annoying” item and say (again) that I’m grateful for snow. I am, truly, for the way it keeps nasty insects from surviving in this part of the world. But what else is annoying?
How about ashes? As much as I love my woodstove, I do not love the ashes that need to be removed to the garage spewing a cloud of dust–usually fiery hot unless we let the stove go out. But ashes keep the fire live and warm over hours, and ashes will help my garden grow come springtime. And so yes, I’m grateful for ashes. How about you? What are the things you might ignore–or bemoan–but also make your life better? Let’s practice a bit of creative gratitude today. It’s a good day for it.