Ashley, from Nourishing the Soul, asked me to participate in a blogging series called Self Discovery, Word by Word. The first word up is GRATITUDE. Please read more about the campaign on Ashley’s amazing and inspiring blog, here. Please note, Ashley asked me to participate in October. Even with my calendar skillz, I know I missed the mark. But the sentiment is still the same, and is possibly more relevant at this time of the year than any other.
I accepted the invitation to participate and instantly my mind went blank. I am apparently emotionally stunted and won’t be able to write this without cracking jokes.
I think it’s appropriate to start with my working definition. As the daughter of a librarian you will rarely find me at odds with Mr. Webster and his publishers the Messrs. Merriam, but this is one of those times.
Definition of THANKFUL1: conscious of benefit received <for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful>2: expressive of thanks <thankfulservice>3: well pleased :glad <was thankful that it didn’t rain>
Definition of GRATITUDE: the state of being grateful :thankfulness
To me, gratitude comes from the heart and soul and not the mind and mouth.
Gratitude sneaks up on you and momentarily steals your breath away. It slams into the back of your eyes with the force of a thousand pins and paints an awestruck smile on your face. It fills your heart with love and overwhelms the speech centers of your brain so that all you can manage to stammer is “thank you”, knowing it is completely inadequate. Gratitude is not a response ingrained in us by our parents.
Gratitude occurs in those moments where you feel connected to someone else. It’s spiritual. It’s beautiful. The most amazing part is that gratitude begets gratitude. It snowballs. Once you start to feel it, it spreads. Just like that first sip of hot cocoa on a cold day, it radiates out. For the cynical among us, it reminds you that the world is indeed full of goodness. Goodness just tends to whisper so sometimes it gets lost in the fray.
Gratitude describes what I felt when I was having what has so far been the worst parenting day of my life* and a then-stranger said “I understand”. I needed to hear that so badly that I love Jason like he’s my family. I also like him a lot more than some of my family. I’m looking at you Uncle Mike -you’re on double secret probation. NO taking pictures of me while I’m eating at the family Christmas this afternoon. This is officially your last warning. Of course, I have not told Jason this. We’re really more acquaintances than friends, so I think my level of emotional attachment to him might come off as
a little weird creepy unbalanced. It’s just not culturally acceptable to tell an acquaintance that you wouldn’t mind if they called you Betty and you called them Al and you would be Al’s bodyguard and Al would be your long-lost pal.**
I try to save that level of weirdness for my bloggy friends. Y’all seem to tolerate it a lot better. And for that, I am thankful. No. I am grateful for all of you. Truly.
*I’m not kidding. It was an edge-of-the-cliff kind of day. Still scares me.
**Forgive me for that.