Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thankful To Be Grateful

Sunday began November and the season of Thanksgiving.  I love this time of year - the falling leaves, the cooler temperatures,  big pots of warm soup, and the flannel sheets back on my bed.   I also like the idea of being intentional about giving thanks, but, it's confession time, I don't really like the Thanksgiving holiday.  It always seems like way too much work resulting in way too much food for way too little enjoyment.  By the time we get everyone's "one favorite" Thanksgiving dish on the menu it seems that we end up with enough food to feed eighty rather than the eight of us.  And of course I feel obligated to taste at least o little bite of everything and before I know it I have "tasted" way more than I needed or wanted.  Over the years I have tried to find ways to simplify the Thanksgiving feast, but none has been particularly successful.

In an effort to perhaps prepare myself a little better spiritually for Thanksgiving Day,  I decided to take time each day during the month of November to acknowledge something for which I am thankful.  I started on Sunday by first considering what it means to be thankful.  I realized that in my own thinking and writing, I tend to use the word "grateful" more often than "thankful."  This sent me on a mental expedition in search of what the difference between these two words is.  I had a hard time coming up with something concrete ton my own hat distinguished the two, so I turned to the dictionary.  I was surprised by what I found.

Thankful is defined as "pleased or relieved" and  grateful as "feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness."  These definitions seem to have totally different connotations, yet each definition also gives the other word as a synonym.  It is the word "relieved" used in the definition of thankful; that feels a bit odd to me.  Even when I do choose to use the word "thankful" rather than "grateful," it is never because I am in need of expressing relief.

I am thankful for my family.  I am relieved  by my family.  This doesn't even begin to make sense.  I am grateful for my family.  I am  appreciative of my family.  I can live with the latter.

Thinking on these two words has done nothing to help clarify for me the distinction between them or their proper usage.  Fortunately, it is only November 5th.  Perhaps by the end of the month I will have better sense of each.  For now, I am thankful that there is no reason that I have to be clear on the subtlety of these words and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue pondering what is most certainly an extremely important concept, I'm sure.

Here are the things that in these first five days of November for which I am thankful/grateful.

November 1: I am grateful for who I am.  I have lots of imperfections, but they all contribute to making me who I am.  I am blessed by my family, friends, and by the work that I do.  I do my very best to be in a light in my small corner of the world, but I also strive to keep that light from shining on me.

November 2: I am grateful for the newest member of our family and for Brooke's help in training and loving this little pup.

November 3: I am grateful for a peaceful backyard where the dogs can play and I can kick off my shoes and relax.

November 4: Though the time change leaves me little light for photography when I get home from school, I am grateful for the quiet of the long dark nights.

Grateful for the calm
Of the dark and quiet night.
Day's long lullaby.

November 5: I am grateful for comfortable clothes - my duck jammies, a sweatshirt, Crocs, and tie-dyed socks.  I am also grateful for a husband who loves me even when I am wearing duck jammies, a sweatshirt, Crocs, and tie-dyed socks.  I am also thankful for that husband who, after dropping me off at school at 7:15 this morning, went home to get my lunch that I forgot and brought it to me on his way to school.

I need to remember that often the little things are the big things and the big things are just little things.