Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Thankful Am I, Really? (When Gratitude Becomes a Platitude)

I've read a lot of gratitude posts recently; they're all over Facebook and blogland. Of course we're thankful; it's that time of year here in the U.S. (last month in Canada and I'm sure there are other places with similar holidays). I thought about writing something about what I'm grateful for, but it just didn't feel sincere to me; while I truly am thankful for the many blessings in my life, I know that I don't often often show it. For me, it's getting to be kind of like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance* (which we do at my school daily, incidentally), or asking someone "How are you?" out of sheer politeness, or saying I'll keep someone in my prayers (whether I actually do or not); there's a danger of coming to the point in which "I'm thankful for..." is just words.

Saying you're thankful should not be a platitude, something that's said so often it's lost meaning. If we truly are thankful, shouldn't we act like it? Walk the walk, so-to-speak?  If I truly am thankful; thankful to the universe, to people in my life, grateful for my opportunities, etc. I think I should do more than just talk about it.

Here are some of my ideas, so far:

*Hand-write notes expressing my gratitude to specific people for their support, love, kindness, whatever. Or maybe say it in person, with eye contact, even :)

*Make a donation to someone less fortunate, either directly or anonymously, with a note saying why, maybe? or via a donation site

*Give the gift of time--Ring bells, take someone's dog for a walk, shovel snow/rake leaves just as a random act of kindness.

I'm not trying to be santimonious (Yes, I had to look that up; it's a great word.); I hope you don't take it that way. I just know that if I write this, I'll be held accountable for actually doing something, you know?  I've often said that I want to make a difference in the world; what difference does it make if I rattle off everything I'm grateful for but don't go out of my way to show it?

Just something to think about...Feel free to share your own ideas or suggestions in the comments.

*To tell you the honest-to-God truth, I am usually distracted during the Pledge during homeroom; it always interrupts a conversation, there's the day to plan, I'm in the middle of stuff, etc. but I make a very conscious effort to recite it sincerely, at least connecting to a part of it; I don't ever want to lose sight of it's importance. 

P.S.The JFK quote was born in his speech proclaiming Thanksgiving a national holiday, in November 1963.

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