An Attitude of Gratitude

Fall Maple Gold 2            When we first moved to Grafton I knew nothing about the surrounding area. We were back in New England because we had moved up from Virginia where we had lived for the past seven years, to be closer to family. A friend who lived in the area and liked it, had invited us to check it out. She helped us find a real estate agent, and we fell in love with a house in Grafton. Soon we met and became friends with an artist who lived in Worcester.

She offered to show me some of her favorite spots in and around the city. She and I spent the next months tramping around in the woods with her dog as we picked raspberries, blackberries, swam, and simply traipsed through in her favorite little wildernesses. It was a wonderful experience for which I am very grateful. Although I don’t see much of my friend these days, my memories of our adventures in the nature spots she showed me still warm my heart.

In my life there is much that has vanished away. As I have grown older I have lost friends and family members. I live differently now than I did twenty or even ten years ago. Of course all of this is appropriate. However when I was growing up and even in my early adult years I had no concept of the amount of change that I would live though. Were I to be regretful of these changes I might be filled with bitterness and sorrow for what no longer is part of my life. However, I do not choose to do that. I have too much to be grateful for.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving meant gathering with family at the home of either my Great Aunt of my Grandmother. I don’t remember anyone suggesting we speak about what we were grateful for, though of course someone always said Grace, a prayer of gratefulness. In those days I didn’t think much about gratitude. I was too busy caring for my home and family.

When I was in my early thirties I was invited by a friend to go to a conference where I met a remarkable teacher. She introduced me to the concept of expressing gratitude for those things in my life that I needed to be grateful for. I began then to practice my attitude of gratitude, and for many years I have said a short prayer of thanks whenever I am grateful. Some years later I had a houseguest who expressed gratitude toward his various and tools. I found this intriguing and as time went on have done this also, thanking my car for a safe journey, or my computer for helpful performance.

In a grateful heart there is no room for regret or resentment. My attitude of gratitude changed my life for the better and continues to enrich it today. The more I remember and express how grateful I am for the richness of my life and the joys that fill it, the less I miss what has passed from it. This year, on Thanksgiving as always I have much for which to be grateful, yet during the rest of the year there is no day on which I do not give thanks over and over again.

 

I am Thankful

Stephen and Tasha Hug          I make a practice of being thankful. I have often shared the little prayer I say a dozen or more times a day for various and sundry blessings. However it is not necessary to pray one’s thanks. It enough to simply acknowledge that one is grateful. My gratitude for what I have is enormous. I am also very grateful for much that I do not have, or may have had and no longer do.

What we have and what we do not have may both are something to be thankful for. Did you ever think back to when you were little and wanted something–a pony, perhaps? Most likely you didn’t get it, and most likely if you had you would soon have tired of taking care of it. Ponies require daily brushing, cleaning up after, feeding, petting, riding, and more: taking care of the saddle, bridle and all the required tack. They are a lot of work, and the child who wants the pony doesn’t think about that.

We seldom think about the consequences of receiving what we wish for. There is an old adage that goes: be careful what you wish for, you may get it. I remember admiring big houses, and oh how I wished for a swimming pool. One day I acquired both. That pool was more work than it was worth, although many people enjoyed it. However they weren’t tasked with the care of it as I was.

I used to think I wanted more space, and now having had two large houses–though one was smaller than the other, I have learned that every bit of space I may have requires care and looking after. I have learned to be content with a lot less space that I ever thought I would be.

As well I am thankful for those difficulties I have left behind. It is lovely not to have to clean three bathrooms each week, tend a huge garden, prune lots of bushes. When I hear a child yelling in the supermarket I am delighted it’s not my job to care for a howling toddler. I am also glad not to have be cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner and hosting a large group of people. I enjoyed and was thankful at the time I did all these things, now I am glad that time has passed.

There is much else I am just as glad not to wish for any longer. I used to think I would like to go up in a balloon, I don’t feel the need to do that any more. I don’t want to jump out of an airplane with a parachute either. I am thankful that I don’t need to do these things to be happy or feel fulfilled.

Thinking about thankfulness as I do each and every day but most especially at Thanksgiving I am struck by the way I have learned what I truly want and how fulfilled I feel. Once I yearned to be more popular. Now I am thankful for the friends I do have. I have learned that what is important to me are the small daily pleasures of contact with people and our communications. Most of all I am grateful for my beloved partner and best friend Stephen. Having a special friend with whom to share my life is my greatest blessing.