As Thanksgiving approaches, some might grumble that there’s little to be thankful for in a year filled with environmental devastation, world-wide refugees, an attack on the Capitol, anti-vaxxers and assorted evils. True, but that’s where the gratitude journal comes in. In his book THANKS!, Robert Emmons recommends the practice of writing down what we’re grateful for, articulating blessings rather than have them free-floating, thus enhancing our gratefulness.
At this time of year, I look back over the year’s entries, record some highlights. They are of course idiosyncratic and personal. But all to the good if they spur readers to create their own. Heading the list this year: VACCINES, that miracle which restored our lives, travel, family time, friendships, exercise, simple pleasures like going out for lunch, or taking children to school.
Nowhere near the same magnitude, and no special order for other entries:
Vivaldi on the radio and raspberries in the cereal bowl waking me in the morning
Kind gestures from friends: invitations, gifts, hospitality, humor, affirmation, stimulation
Wonderful books read: Hamnet, The Vanishing Half, Finding the Mother Tree, The Lost Words
Fine streaming entertainment: “Atlantic Crossing,” “Lupin,” “Call the Midwife,” “Atypical,” “Dopesick,” “Worth,” “Convergence”
Marvelous on-line courses: from Mickey McGrath about art, Matthew Fox and Mirabai Starr about Julian of Norwich, Stanford scientists about climate change, Chris Pramuk about music and hope, Commonweal series on justice
Wildly creative Halloween costumes, after precious few last year
Energetic lifeguards, Zumba teachers and yoga instructors
Delight in nature a constant theme: from the first flowering trees, white against evergreen, to the blaze of maple leaves in fall, with a whole range of color, texture and shape in between
Not that I’m a foodie, but I often record the special pleasure of a mocha in the morning, a cookie treat, enchiladas or lasagna shared with family or friends, the Honeycrisp apple when I was SO hungry!
This barely skims the surface; gratitude can be deep ocean, vast sea. But sometimes it helps to dip in our little sandpail, wield our small shovel. Heartening to know we can never exhaust all the reasons for thanks.