Gratitude: Annually, at Least

thanksgivingplentyIn the United States, it is almost time for Thanksgiving, our national celebration of gratitude and food.

Two years ago 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. I repeated it last year, and this year have decided it should become a tradition. After all, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Name at least one thing that is usually annoying, but when you consider more carefully, makes you grateful.

Here’s my list for this year.

  1.  Gwen_Evelyn_MelThis probably violates my “seldom think about them” rule, but I am grateful for my grandmother, Gwen. Gwen was a short plump Welsh woman, with sparkling eyes, a gift for cooking, and a generosity of spirit I’ve yet to see matched. She taught me (directly, and through my mother) all I know about service. I remember, when she was in her late 80s, her telling me that the way she stayed happy was that she woke up each morning and thought, “Who can I help today?” May I do half as well.
  2. I am thankful for the ways our bodies heal. If you think about it, it is actually quite wonderful. I recently had minor surgery that left me feeling fine but looking as if I’d gone several bouts in a boxing ring–and done very badly. Over not very many days I’ve watched my body put itself back together. Amazing.
  3. I’m grateful for sunshine and blue skies–rare and beautiful in November in Michigan. Perhaps it is different where the sun shines all the time, but here, when the sun shines, everyone is happier. People smile in the parking lots, the grocery stores, and the gas stations–almost as much as when Michigan’s football team is doing well, but that’s another story!
  4. I’m grateful for plumbing, especially on cold winter nights.
  5. I’m grateful for roasted cherry tomatoes in my freezer. They will come out in February and taste (almost) like summer.  And chocolate. And the people who make chocolate possible.

Now, what can be annoying? Wind. We’ve had some cold windy days recently, blowing our carefully piled leaves all over the place. But I’ve been in a few places that had temperature inversions, when polluted air hung over us with no wind to blow it away. So yes, I’m grateful for the winds that keep air moving.

How about you? What are the things that make your heart sing with gratitude today, even a small song? It is worth singing. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

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