Perpetual Gratitude

It happens every year at this time.  Everyone reflects and discusses what they are thankful for.  I have a friend on Facebook who devotes each day in November to something that she’s thankful for.  And it’s beautiful, the onslaught of gratitude that occurs in November.  November has never really been my favorite month.  It’s just kind of brown, it can’t commit to fully being winter but has left the Indian summer behind.  To me, November is a 30 day slog until winter fully hits and then everything is covered in white and the world looks different for a few months.  But the gratitude that spills out of people makes November a lot more tolerable.  Which is great.  Thank you all for that.

But then what happens in December?  We get focused on gift giving, making our holiday celebration a demonstration on how Pinterest makes us feel unworthy.  I am not a cook, but I get inspired to try recipes that end up bombing and then I feel like a failure.  Then I watch my husband, who is an amazing cook, randomly strike up some amazing dish out of thin air and I think “I just can’t do that.  Why can’t I do that?  What is wrong with me?” 

But you know what?  I am perpetually grateful for the things I actually am good at.  And I am perpetually grateful for the people around me who cheer me on, and I am fortunate that there are too many to list here. 

So, let’s make Thanksgiving last all year long.  Let’s be thankful every day of the year.  Here are some ways that I am trying to slow down and appreciate all that I have.

1. When I meet someone who speaks a different language (waiters, clerks, anyone!) I ask them how to say “thank you” in their language.  Then say thank you in their tongue.  I have learned to say “thank you” in, I think, 20 some odd languages now.  When I learn where someone is from I will say thank you in their language and it always makes them smile.

2. Before I go to bed, most nights, I will thank my husband for something from the day just before we fall asleep.  “Thanks for making dinner, it was delicious.”  “Thanks for bringing that heavy laundry basket upstairs.”  “Thanks for a great weekend.”  “Thanks for being my husband.”  It doesn’t have to be a big thing.  And usually he’ll say something like “You don’t have to thank me for that.”  But, yes I do!  Thanking someone isn’t a matter of getting it off your chest.  It’s a matter of making the other person know that you appreciate them. 

3. When either of us has a bad day I say “Just look around at what we have.  We are so lucky.”  Take a step back and appreciate what’s gone right instead of dwelling on what’s gone wrong.  We work our asses off for all that we have.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate it.  When we stop appreciating what we have, then all that hard work is for nothing.

4. When I see a member of the armed services in uniform, even if I do not know them, I thank them for serving.  They put their butts on the line for us, and a simple thank you from a stranger may be just the thing to energize them if they are having a bad day. 

5. When someone compliments me at work, I send a thank you email.  They went out of their way to say something nice about me, it takes all of a minute to say thank you for that.

So here’s to a year of Thanksgiving.  You can stop with the pumpkin spice everything, though.  That’s getting old.  But let the spirit of Thanksgiving live on for the rest of the year. 

Thank you for reading.  Merci, Danke, Grazie, and as my people say: dziękuję.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 11.23.15

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