Part of the reason I always enjoy Thanksgiving more than Christmas is that it is a day devoted to giving thanks instead of giving presents. I am not opposed to being the recipient of a nice gift, and I do enjoy giving gifts to others, but there’s something so simple, yet powerful, about being grateful and expressing that gratitude. Gratitude ended up being the unintentional theme for the one thing that I did for myself and for others today.
A couple of years ago, my daughters and I were at Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church listening to Fr. David Sanchez’s homily. Normally, the girls, and even I, will zone out during most homilies, but if you have ever heard Fr. David preach, you know that his heartfelt, passionate sermons make it impossible to tune him out. He speaks from his heart to the hearts of all those listening, and that particular homily was one that made an impact on all three of us.
Fr. David introduced the concept of keeping a gratitude journal and being ever mindful of all of the blessings we have, instead of always focusing on what we do not have and what we deem wrong in our lives. While this was not a new concept for me, as I had kept such journals sporadically over the years, my girls were excited to learn about it. As we drove to a friend’s home after Mass, they continued to talk about the homily and asked if they could each keep a gratitude journal. I loved the idea of all three of us doing this together each night, so, we stopped and bought them each a journal. We began the ritual of each privately writing down five things we were grateful for that day and then sharing them together with each other, and it soon became one of my favorite parts of the day. We were diligent about doing this, but then, life set in, as homework, practices, sleep overs, etc. began to take up more of our time. Slowly, our nighttime ritual became non-existent, that is, until today.
It is unacceptable that we cannot find time to be grateful and to share our gratitude with each other daily, so, I broached the subject with the girls about resurrecting the gratitude journals, and they were more than happy and ready to do so. Recognizing all the good in my life, especially when things are not going as well as I want them to, is one of the best things that I can do for myself to stay present, humble, grateful, and happy. It makes my heart and baby soul soar when I can embrace all that I have to be thankful for, and I am even making peace with some of the challenges I have faced and still deal with, as without them, I would not be who I am today. I have grown to like who and what I am, flaws and all, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Another way I express gratitude for what I have is to give back to others, and I have taught the girls that whenever they possibly can help another person, they simply must do so. This afternoon, the three of us worked together going through our clothes and their toys and games to donate our gently used and new (yes, some items still had the tags on) items to two different sources who need them more than we do.
Several weeks ago, I received a call asking me for help. This man explained that his girlfriend has two daughters close to the same age as my two daughters, and he wanted to know if I ever had any clothes of theirs to give away, if he could have them, as he and his girlfriend have no extra money for clothes for the girls right now. It was difficult for him to make this request of me, and I promised him that I would keep him in mind. When I told the girls about this request, they eagerly found a variety of pants, shirts, pajamas, etc. that they wanted the other girls to have. As a parent, I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to not be able to provide everything that you would like to for your children, and I also cannot imagine how hard it would be to reach out for help. We hope that this gesture really does help this family, especially during the holiday season.
The rest of the items that we were ready to pass on to others in need were donated to the local Society of St. Vincent de Paul. We are so fortunate to have so much, and we are even more fortunate to be able to help others who need it. It truly is better to give than it is to receive indeed.
As this warm, rainy Sunday comes to an end and a new week is upon us, I am left feeling extremely grateful and hopeful. In a short time, I have come to realize that doing just one thing each day for myself and for someone else really does make a positive difference, even in a small way, and I cannot wrap my brain around what will happen as I continue on this path. Thank you for being a part of this with me!
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day