Earlier this month, I stumbled upon a Pin that made me sit up and think hard.
I almost groaned when I read that Pin because if that idea ever became a reality, I'm pretty sure I'd be out in the cold, hungry and without a lick of clothing. Like most people, I don't stop very often to express gratitude for everything in my life that truly improves the quality of my existence. It's far too easy to take warm clothes in your closet, a full fridge, and roof over your head for granted, even when natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy really should be prompting most of us to acknowledge just how good so many of us have it.
I'm not an overly (or overtly) religious person, but I had enough years of Sunday school and Vacation Bible School in my youth to keep "the big guy in the sky" in mind whenever I offer up some thankful thoughts. Sometime in college, I gave up trying to figure out where Jesus and Christianity fit in my adult life, but I still hold onto an idea that there is some inherent goodness in the world that is bigger than we are. Whether you refer to that shadowy thing as the Universe, the Maker, the Goddess, Allah, the Lord, God, just plain old beauty and goodness, or whatever is hardly a matter we should bother quibbling over. But I do believe it's worth taking stock of the beauty and goodness that surrounds us on a regular basis and offering up a prayer, thought, or vibe of thanks for everything.
After all, the grateful person tends to be the gracious person. When we acknowledge the abundance that exists in our lives, we tend to want less. There are multiple psychological studies that correlate a grateful mind with an enhanced sense of well-being. It's interesting to note that Thanksgiving comes not only at the end of the fall harvest (yeah abundance!), but also at a time when the world is growing dark and people starting to slip into their season affective disorders. Really, we should be using the Thanksgiving as late autumn boost to our mental health instead of the kick-off to the holiday stress season.
Somewhere the actual "thanks giving" of Thanksgiving got lost in worrying about potatoes boiling over, football games, and Black Friday sales that are ever creeping, creeping towards Thursday evening. I'm not saying that we don't stop to say thanks this time of year. (Hello 30 Days of Thankfulness over on Facebook.) What I'm trying to say is that there is so very much to be thankful for in our lives that it's impossible to get our arms around all of it, let alone lay out all that goodness in the laundry lists of thankfulness that become so popular in the social media world this time each year.
Going back to the Pin above, what wouldn't I want to be without when I wake up each morning? Well, I'd still want to find myself in a cozy bed with a crackling fire in the woodstove in the next room, and have a loving partner and family, and plenty of food, and lots of clothes, and employment, and a beautiful place to live, and birds that visit the feeders, and a blog, and writing skills, and a sense of humor, and lots of yarn, and the Internetz, and le Netflix, and, and, and . . . .
So this year, I'm skipping the laundry list of things that I'm thankful for, because I know to try to name every thing I'm thankful for is liking attempting to number the stars. Instead, I'll just offer up a simple "Thank you" to whoever (whatever) is out there and hope that if I remember to say those two little words a little more often, I'll remind myself and the universe of just how grateful I am for everything - and I mean everything- that I'm blessed with.