Christmas is a day of spiritual thanksgiving; a day to be grateful for all we have not just in terms of our bounty, but in terms of our soul. Grateful is a straightforward adjective, an expression of thanks for gifts received, whether physical, emotional, or genetic. Grateful does not afford irony. Yet the depths to which gratefulness can be applied are endless. I can be grateful to my parents for passing on the gene of rhythm because I so love to dance. I can be grateful to nature for the glory of New England autumn, I can be grateful to god for simply giving me breath every morning. But I can also be grateful for those little events that comprise the day; the exact change in my pocket that equals the bus fare and the mid-morning refreshment of my diet Coke.
Gratefulness is that unique commodity that gains value the more it is transmitted. Thirty years ago, months could pass and I would never utter the word. Then Oprah got in the gratefulness business. She had a habit of asking her guests what they were grateful for in her confidential manner that implied, just between you and me, that truly worthy people have lots to be grateful for and are not too sophisticated to express it. I was in my forties then and damn tired of being depressed and divorced, by the endless therapy cycle and the gap between my contrived expectations and life’s reality. I wanted to will myself into happiness. But happiness cannot be willed. Gratefulness, however, can be acknowledged. And whenever something good is acknowledged, we claim a few moments of grace from the clouds that darken our soul.
I was talking with my sister Pat last week, a cathartic exchange about the ills of our nation and how the international situation is desperate as usual, when she said, “I just wish our leaders would dwell on all we have to be grateful.” She struck a true chord. We Americans deserve to be slapped upside the face, to be shocked into the reality that everyone else in the world already knows – that we are a privileged citizenry who takes too much for granted and we are not near enough grateful.
It is odd quirk of human nature that the strength of people’s hope is inversely proportional to their affluence. The more we have, the more we spend time protecting it, the less potential we envision for the future. Affluence impoverishes the spirit. The fatter our bank accounts, the leaner our dreams.
I am grateful to all the people who take time from your day to click on The Awkward Pose and follow my musings. I hope you all find much to be grateful for on this Christmas day. I hope that you build on that acknowledgement tomorrow, and the next day and the next, until we all realize that our days on this miraculous planet are more than just a series of tasks to suffer, they are a cascade of opportunities to explore. May we all be grateful for the wonder of our own journey and strive to our highest potential to be fully human and fully committed to one another