The more I ponder and focus on the subject of gratitude, the more aware I am of the complexity of articulating its meaning. Some days, it’s as simple as saying, “Thank you,” to a young woman bagger at the super market who asked, “Shall I pack your bags not too heavy, ma’am?”
She initiated the perfect question seconds before my usual instructions. I thanked her profusely as she set the bags in my cart. In the parking lot, as I hoisted the four bags into my car without strain, I further appreciated how well she had balanced the weighty apples, potatoes and squashes with the kale and rainbow chard selections. Whereas I was thankful in the moment, the effects of her careful effort deepened my appreciation and had a lasting effect.
In this season between Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas, much is written about gratitude and “giving” to show appreciation. We are bombarded by requests from charities and organizations. Budgets are reviewed. Lists of relatives and friends, people we love and care about, organizations, which focus on attending to issues and causes important to us, are made. Every person or organization we choose to acknowledge, in some way, makes a difference in our lives.
Is not the act of making a gift list the same as making a gratitude list with a specific intention?
I enjoy list-making for the opportunity to review and reflect on people in my life who, in my mother’s words, “make my life easier.”
My mailbox is situated up the driveway by the side entrance. It requires the mail carrier to walk from the street to the mailbox every day, through every season. During warm months, I’m often in the garden and can greet him and sometimes, chat. In this season of chill, I see him little but will enjoy selecting a special card, writing a note of appreciation, and adding a gift to leave in the mailbox.
Appreciation, the practice of gratitude, takes time and effort. The person who best exemplifies this in my life is my daughter, Beth. Joined by her daughter, she has the ritual of making home made chocolate fudge and pretzels covered with chocolate and colorful sprinkles. The ritual began years ago as a way to raise funds for a school charity and since, has grown into a way to show appreciation for colleagues, friends and family. Her Dad is on the list. She makes him special turtles with caramel. I order fudge and pretzels, festive packages for special friends.
I plan to start my appreciation/gift-giving list tonight, at the onset of Chanukah. As I light candles on the eight nights, I am grateful for my home, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors, my many helpers, my news outlets, the flow of information, my opportunity to be engaged and give back to all who help make my life better and safer.
Faye, It tis the time of yr where we hear much about being grateful and your reminder of the many small ways in which we can practice gratitude are quite poignant. However as you also noted, I feel bombarded by requests for donations and struggle to sort and decide where to share the bounty! I also struggle with the gift giving piece when in the past i have wandered around it seems buying something for the sake of having something to give, often to someone who needs nothing. I have clearly come to a place where i’d much rather spend time with a friend and enjoy the conversation and connection. Lastly, i’m most grateful for my husband who is out in the kitchen making gluten free Latkes for our Hanukkah celebration this evening with family!!!
Pat, bombarded is certainly the operational word re:the pile of evocative requests that arrive in the mail. Last year, l initiated small amounts to multiple charities, many new. This year, I am organizing around appreciation and empathy and hope to focus on fewer! (Wish me luck) Enjoy the latkes! Looking forward to our time together.