As this year’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end, I’m beginning to get concerned for the rest of the week. Truthfully I’m concerned for the rest of the year until next Thanksgiving. By my calculations, I fear that many of us may only get to experience approximately two days of forced gratitude every calendar year. Even while eating leftover turkey and mayonnaise sandwiches on whole-wheat bread this week, the hype of the holiday could likely have already worn off and we could easily find ourselves in the same patterns of grumbling and discontent that we’ve traditionally occupied the other 363 days of the year.
The reason this bothers me is not only because I don’t want to live in a dark world of ungrateful people; it’s that so many of us are missing out on the fullness of life. Thankfulness is the key to unlocking a world of wonder and adventure. When we learn to appreciate the small things, we quickly learn that the mundane isn’t mundane at all. Everything becomes full of wonder. Every situation becomes an adventure. And we realize that the daily miracles may, in fact, be the most astounding miracles of all. God didn’t have to give us the necessary breath for another day, or the eyesight to witness another captivating sunrise, or the gift of being with someone we love one more time, or even the privilege of being born in a land of great opportunity, to name very few.
In pondering this subject I’m starting to develop a theory that the primary enemy of gratitude is entitlement. When we falsely assume that we somehow deserve a certain lot in life, it gives us ground to lament and withhold appreciation as soon as circumstances don’t align with our projections. Yet, what do we really have that hasn’t been given to us? Right now, I can’t think of anything I’ve actually earned on my own. Even things I’ve worked hard for couldn’t have been mine unless I had the necessary breath, skills, opportunities, brain power, and so much more, that was needed to allow me even the chance to work hard.
Yesterday I got news that one of my family members was in a serious accident and is fighting for his life. I share that not to be a downer over the holidays, but on the contrary to urge everyone to take the time to celebrate. Celebrate the extraordinary which is commonly and unfortunately mistaken for the ordinary. May we love deeply and praise often.