Last week, we had a belated Thanksgiving celebration at ours. Cranberry, sweet potato and corn-on-the-cob were our nods-to-the-natives in an otherwise rather Northern Irish ‘roast dinner’, but as I prepped I appreciated the time carved out in the ritual to name things I was thankful for.
It reminded me of the month of January in 2011. One of my best friends, Ali, and I were in France on teaching placements there for our PGCE course. It was freezing, dark until 9am and again from 4pm, we were frustratingly close to Paris but just far enough to not be able to go and take in the sights/maracons at our leisure. These things seem ridiculous, looking back, but had contributed to a general attitude of discontentment in our first few days there. One morning then, after a early, rainy walk in the dark to our bus stop, we decided to name things we were thankful for. Some were atrociously frivolous (Kinder chocolate) and some were profound (our friendship). Both were needed. And we did it every morning, and each time we felt a little ‘stuffy’. It worked. We laughed a lot and wondered at the little things that made the days a little more swallow-able, and the big things that, really, were quite incredible.
I haven’t carried on this tradition. And I hate the part of me that gets so comfortable that I forget so many of the wonderful things, big and small, in my life…so much so that I allow them to be eclipsed by the small, less-than-great things.
There are people in my life who have little, but constantly exercise thankfulness and seem to have a much better perspective on life because of this. They are inspiring, and they make me think of the following Thomas Merton quote:
“Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
Oh, to be a grateful person.
I think it takes practice. What do you do to develop an attitude of thankfulness?