Most of this post was originally run during Thanksgiving week in 2013. The message is important no matter what year it is!
THANKFUL: conscious of benefit received; pleased or grateful; glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists; relieved; aware and appreciative of a benefit
благодарно, reconnaissant, אסיר תודה, grato, 감사한, riconoscente, agradecido, 感謝している, dankbaar, ευγνώμων, 感激
Depending on where you live “THANKFUL” is not only expressed differently, it’s felt differently. Many of us have the privilege of being thankful for people who love us, good health, a career (or retirement), or a roof over our heads. Many, many others are thankful for just ONE DAY of non-violence, shelter from the cold (or heat), a medical facility even remotely close to them, someone to give them ANYTHING to eat.
It seems that in this fast-paced life we create (at least I know that I create it) we don’t TRULY stop, and BREATHE, and REFLECT, long enough to BE THANKFUL. We often have great intentions because we KNOW how fortunate we are, but, in spite of that, at this time of year many of us go into overdrive attempting to create “perfection”. Sure, that looks different to all of us but there seems to be some commonalities. We clean, we worry, we stay up late making lists (and then re-writing those lists),we cook, we bake, we overspend, and we try to impress (without it looking like it was any effort AT ALL). We’re more concerned with getting to the store for that special sale than we are with staying at the table for an hour longer talking to someone we love. We try to make up for all the disappointments we’ve had over the years; the times our holidays didn’t look like a bucolic scene from “Currier & Ives”. The funny thing is we often miss the point. I know I do.
Larry and I have THE LISTS. You know them: the “menus”, “what needs to get done before guests arrive”, “getting the house in order”, “grocery shopping”, “gift buying” lists. There is, however, lodged in my brain what my husband calls the “stealth list”. That’s the list of ALL the possible things I would LIKE to do before the holidays get here, if ONLY I COULD MAKE THE TIME. hmmmmm……..
In a book I read by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together) he says, “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” I think the ordinary but NOT small gifts are what make up our lives. I believe a lot of us pray when we’re in a tough place but forget to pray with THANKFULNESS and gratitude for all we DO have.
Over the years a few friends have encouraged me to keep a gratitude journal. I’ve done it from time-to-time but never with real commitment. What’s weird is that it should be one of the easiest things for me to do. I have so much to write in that journal. I have a wonderful “family” (and I’m not just talking about people biologically or legally connected to me). I have a connection to God and a faith community that surrounds me with love.I have a husband who loves me and believes in me. I have wonderful daughters who I talk to almost every day. I have grandchildren who are (being TOTALLY objective) amazing and perfect, and add so much to my life. I have dear friends (and I don’t use the word “friend” lightly); friends I have known for 50 years and friends I have known for two years; friends who are REAL with me; friends who “get” me; friends who hold me accountable; friends who say “you should journal Kay”; friends who will cry in front of me and who let me cry with them; friends I can visit with in my yoga pants and no makeup; friends who would (and have) dropped everything to be with me. I have a home that’s a safe place. I have plenty to eat. I have heat to keep me warm in the winter. I have health. I have abilities. I live in a place with beautiful trees and birds chirping outside my window. I have the luxury of reading and thinking and expressing myself. I have SO much.
When we look back on our lives I don’t think we’re going to regret spending time with God (or whatever you call your Divine Power if you have one), in community with other people, or in quiet time connecting with our spirit; the essence of who we are. In spite of knowing (and writing that) I have much work to do.
I hope during the final five weeks of this year that we all slow down enough to just be. BE present, BE aware, BE amused, Be amazed, BE joyful. BE thankful. BE full of thanks.
May this season of love be just that. Happy Thanksgiving.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #36. Figure out what you truly treasure; you need to understand who/what that is, in order to prioritize how you “spend” you life….then be “Full of Thanks”.