As the music wafts the air this morning, it mixes and mingles till it reaches my inner sanctum. I thank the light, which has just come on to enable me to read from the book in my hands. The music swells steadily. My hearing seems to be diminishing with each passing day. It is my belief that, at least, by my sixtieth birthday, I will be deaf. Then, the music will swell from my heart and my soul.
As I feel the music and read the words before me, I pause after thanking the light upon my wall. Were people to have a view into my realm and see me in this manner, I wonder how many would think me daft, inane or just plain crazy. There are some who would, perhaps call me eccentric as a way to be more politically correct.
For many decades in churches and amongst the religious sects, I have heard it declared that we must always have “an attitude of gratitude”. I wonder if these people really know what that statement implies. I always thought it meant thanking people when they give me something or do something for me. I have learned differently.
Being grateful is a life-long journey. A quest.
This past week, here in the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving. I have been doing some reading regarding this holiday. It seems my memory is not what it used to be, or perhaps I was taught the wrong things all through my young educational years and believed them as all children do.
Thanksgiving was not celebrated in this country as a holiday until 1789 after George Washington was declared our first President. It did not become a federal holiday, being celebrated very year until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” and set aside the last Thursday in November for the celebration.
Many believe that what we deem the ‘First Thanksgiving’ was the first November after the Pilgrims arrived in the New World. This could not be true. Prior to this time, both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans held many festivals of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims did so to give thanks for conquering lands and gaining riches. There were also those who held the three day feasts for successful harvests. This is what would have been celebrated on that first Thanksgiving. Ninety Native Americans joined fifty-three Pilgrims to help celebrate a good harvest season. This was more likely at least a year after the Pilgrims came to the New World. it would have taken time and at least one full cultivation season to have a successful bounty in the harvest.
The Native Americans and the early settlers did not take such things for granted. They were ever grateful for the things they had and would show this gratitude through giving days-long feasts of thanks to which ever gods they served. Being ever grateful and taking nothing for granted is the true nature of this Attitude of Gratitude.
I am not rich, or even well off by the standards of modern, free-world societies. But as I look around, I am also not poor in comparison to what some deem the lesser-societies. After a debilitating knee injury in 1996, I learned to not take walking and being pain-free for granted. However, there were many other things I still took for granted, such as over all, general good health. I was cocky in thinking I would never need disability insurance or life insurance. Then, my health was taken away by a disabling, chronic illness. I took being able to still work for granted as well. Until I lost my job to the 2008 recession and could not obtain other employment due to the aforementioned illness.
It has taken me years to learn how to truly be grateful. And perhaps it is a bit silly for me to thank an inanimate object such as a light fixture, but to be truly grateful, we need to really be thankful for the smallest of comforts as well as for the great bountiful harvests.
Find the little things in your world and breath a sigh of thanksgiving for what you have. In being grateful for the small, you will better appreciate the mighty.