A dear friend recently reminded me how important it is to be grateful. Now, I consider myself a fairly mindful person, and many events in my life have taught me not to take anything for granted. But it’s all too easy to remember to be grateful for the big things and forget the little things (or vice versa), or even to forget whom we’re being grateful to in the first place.
So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (both with a big T and a little one), here are a few of the many things I’m thankful for—and maybe a few things I should be thankful for but usually forget:
For music, the language of angels
For autumn, my favorite season
For winter, because it has to come before spring
For heat, because I know what it’s like to be cold
For hunger, which reminds us to be grateful to eat
For the twenty-first century, because as much as we fret over it, and as great an antiquarian as I am, I wouldn’t have wanted to live in the fifteenth
For my education, and all those who made sure I got it
For my family, about whom I can’t say enough (though my friends probably wish I could)
For all the people in my life, from the dearest of friends to the passing acquaintances, because they remind me how very big the world is and how very small I am
For the sky, for the same reason
For the sea, likewise
For the moments when something takes your breath away and makes you feel like flying, or makes you laugh like a child
I don’t see any reason to divide sober thankfulness from the sheer pleasure of things in and of themselves; surely any pure and innocent sense of pleasure is already a half-articulated prayer of thanks to the one who provided it, or made us sensible to its charms? At least, I hope that the God who made sure Adam wasn’t lonely and who turned water into wine to keep the party going wouldn’t mind my putting chocolate on a par with the grandeur of his ocean. (Perhaps I should also mention at this point that when I hear atheists and agnostics express their “gratitude” for something no human gave to them, I always feel a secret hope that someday they’ll realize who it is they’re really thanking. I’m not an aggressive evangelist, but I’m always happy—no, grateful!—to gain a new brother or sister.)
Even as I sit here trying to wrap up this post, I keep thinking of dozens more items that I could add to my list. My health, my job, my freedom…I could go on almost ad infinitum. I won’t, just because the list is probably tedious enough as it is. But it’s uplifting to spend a moment thinking about the things we have that we have no right to expect from life—things others don’t have, or things we can appreciate that others might pass over as unimportant and unremarkable. I think if we spent a little more time in that kind of meditation, maybe we’d brood less on what we don’t have, and maybe we’d find ourselves just a little happier right here and right now, exactly as we are.