The day I am experiencing right at this moment is one I would deem complete perfection; utter bliss to the highest degree. I am sitting on my couch in the living room I grew up in, with The Christmas Story movie on TV (it’s the tongue on the lamppost part!) and a steaming hot cup of pumpkin spice flavored coffee an arm’s reach away. My sister is home from college, and my adorable cat is laying curled up on the floor right beside me. All is right in the world; my whole family is home. As my family consists of a bunch of adventure-seeking, constantly on the go individuals, it’s saying a lot when we are all in the same zip code, let alone under the same roof. So here I am, feeling perfectly content with life (and feeling extremely satisfied and accomplished due to finding some stellar Black Friday deals this morning), and it’s got me thinking of how lucky I am to be right here. With a comfortable, warm and toasty place I call home, with a loving and slightly strange family (just kidding) that I can’t seem to get enough of, and with a bundle of friends that will laugh at my almost always dumb jokes, I can’t help but think; how’d I get so lucky?
Thanksgiving has a funny way of getting our “grateful” juices flowing. In the days leading up to Turkey Day, we text, call and write to old high school friends, running into them the night deemed “Thanksgiving Eve” and reminiscing about skipping first period, and getting in trouble for not wearing our awful lanyard school IDs. We end the night either feeling grateful to have met so many people during our high school years, or grateful that those years are long gone. During our Thanksgiving Day feast, we sit elbow to elbow with family members from far and wide, at a table that is nowhere near used to having as many people around it as this day, with bowls of stuffing, gravy dishes, fluffy mashed potatoes, and Aunt Edna’s mysterious (and slightly inedible) Thanksgiving casserole, and we give thanks to all the blessings in our lives. For some reason or another (and it could very well be the glass or two of wine I’ve had to drink that’s to blame), but it’s in those moments that I feel an overwhelming amount of gratuity to those things that I just don’t exactly think about throughout the year. A warm place to live? A great family? Loyal friends? Well, what’s so special about that? Aren’t we guaranteed those few things in life? Sadly, the answer for so many is “No”; these things in life are far from a guarantee, far from the “norm”.
As I was thinking about the real meaning of gratefulness, and what we are really trying to say when we list out all of our blessings while sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I realized what the real meaning of “being grateful” is. The meaning is easy, straightforward, and completely logical…and also unknown to the majority of us. It’s unknown to us not because we are ignorant or chose not to understand it, but rather because we have never considered the real meaning of “gratefulness” before.
Being grateful for things in your life…your health, your family your friends….is essentially an understanding and acknowledgement that other people in this world may not be as lucky and as fortunate as you. It’s not a “right” to have a family, it’s not a “right” to be in good health…those are things that we seem to consistently take for granted, although it is far from an entitled right. We have things in our lives that many other people don’t have, and that is what gratuity is all about. Chances are, you are reading this blog post right now on a computer, and that in itself is something that a large part of the world cannot say they will ever have the chance to do; to read and to work on something as luxurious as a computer.
Let me help put this further into perspective: We know about cancer and hear about cancer and the effects of it on a nearly daily basis. If we are in good health, we are GRATEFUL for our health because we know it can so easily be taken away from us. If we have a close, tight-knit family, we are grateful for them because we know that in today’s day and age, having a family is a luxury, not a right. We are grateful for a house to live in because we pass homeless people on street corners. We see their lifestyles and we see what they are going through, with no permanent place to call home, and we appreciate the home we can go back to in which we feel warm and safe.
So now that brings me back to the point of this whole blog post. As we embrace the start of the holiday season, as we head to Christmas parties and New Years parties and family reunions, I have a challenge for all of us. Think of whatever you are most grateful for in your life, whether it be work, education, family, friends, and give back to the opposing side of it; the side that makes you grateful for it. If you are most grateful for your health, volunteer in a hospital where people are struggling and fighting their health. If you are grateful for your family, help out at a local shelter where people do not have families or come from broken homes. Take the opposite of why you are grateful, and give back. Give perspective and depth to your blessings, and the universe will give back to you in unimaginable ways.
To give is to get, and to be grateful is to realize that you have something so many other people hope and wish for. This holiday season, be the difference you’ve always wanted to be; be the blessing you’ve wanted to become. From me to you, have the happiest of holidays.