ANN BAILEY: Counting your blessings may take longer than you thinkBeing thankful, as I see it, is a gift we give to ourselves, to others and to God. It’s a gift to us because it helps us to see our blessings and to realize how much we have, instead of what we are lacking. As I tell my children, if they are constantly looking at what other kids have, they will never be satisfied because there always will be someone who has something that is bigger or better. “Be grateful for what you have” is my mantra.
On Thursday, my family, along with millions of others across the country, will celebrate Thanksgiving.
Gathering with family and friends to share a delicious meal is one of the reasons Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Another is that the day reminds me to be thankful.
Being thankful, as I see it, is a gift we give to ourselves, to others and to God. It’s a gift to us because it helps us to see our blessings and to realize how much we have, instead of what we are lacking. As I tell my children, if they are constantly looking at what other kids have, they will never be satisfied because there always will be someone who has something that is bigger or better. “Be grateful for what you have” is my mantra.
Brian and I also work to instill in our children that the things for which we should be mostly grateful for aren’t things at all. At 14, 12 and 8, they already have a pretty good understanding of that because of our family’s experience with cancer. They know that no material possession could be worth as much as the gift of Ellen’s good health.
The more thankful we are, I think, the happier we are. Instead of constantly comparing what we have to others and coming up short, we can look at ourselves and be content knowing that we have everything we need.
Expressing thanks is a gift to others because we are acknowledging their importance and that we appreciate what they have done for us. My family is appreciative because, beyond the day-to-day kind heartedness of people, we have experienced, we have been the recipient of outpourings of people’s thoughtfulness a couple of times in the past few years.
The first was when Ellen was sick with leukemia and family, friends and people we had never met rallied around us and gave us emotional and financial support. The second was just a couple of months ago when my mom died and people called, stopped me on the street and wrote notes to express their sympathy.
For me saying thanks to God, meanwhile, is even important because everything I have comes from him and nothing is possible without him. I believe that the kindness that has been extended to us is God working through us, his children.
Write it down
I read a suggestion recently that said that when we invite people to Thanksgiving dinner, we should ask them to bring a list of 100 things that we are grateful for with them and then exchange their list with others. The person who wrote the suggestion said that at first, writing down a hundred things, will appear to be a daunting task, but that as we work our way through the list, 100 won’t seem like enough.
I’d like to share 10 of the things on my list. Here they are: My Catholic Christian faith, my family and friends, my community, my job and co-workers, my health, the legacy of love my mom left to her family, Ellen’s dog Rosebud that gives her such joy, Maggie, our yellow Lab who teaches me patience, the bumps in the road of life that humble me and remind me that I’m not in charge and the upcoming winter that will provide me with a rest from yard and garden work.
Happy Thanksgiving and may your own list be long.