I happily read along as many of my Facebook friends shared daily gratitude posts this November, reflecting on their blessings both large and small. For those of us who were perhaps less ambitious, at least our Thanksgiving holiday included words of thanks for our abundance… of food, family, home, health and so on.
But now we're on to December and if you're celebrating Christmas, that gratitude list has likely been replaced with Santa's shopping list. Even if you love the holiday season, as I do, this month can seem like an epic exercise in time management - both getting it all done, and hanging on 'til January. It may be another year before we get back to those daily gratitudes.
But wait! What if we kept going with our Thanksgiving - giving thanks - throughout the year? I'm reminded of a moment, many years ago now, that's stayed fresh and potent in my memory. A dear friend and I were on an outing, driving and chatting…well, complaining, really…about how grumpy we felt and how hard life is sometimes.
Sure, we all have those moments. Fine. But it occurred to me that we'd actually enjoy our time together more if we could change our attitude, so I suggested we make a gratitude list. We went back and forth, each saying aloud ten things we were grateful for. At first we were halting and unconvinced but after we'd taken a few turns, we could feel the mood begin to brighten.
By the time we were through, we felt positively giddy! We had a wonderful, happy day together feeling blessed and grateful. It's not that our problems disappeared but rather that we chose to shift our attention to something positive. This isn't "New Age" thinking or something from The Secret. Many great traditions have teachings such as this beautiful this verse from the Bible:
So, back to those Christmas shopping lists. This year, next to every name, I'm writing something about the person that I'm grateful for. When I find the perfect gift for them, I'm giving thanks for the means to give it. Even when we're headed home, stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, I'm giving thanks for our hybrid vehicle, for the workers that maintain the roadway, for the family that awaits our arrival…
I know I'm living in one of the most fortunate nations on earth. How could I not be thankful?
With gratitude, I have Thanksgiving every day.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.