When we were children, many of us associated the word “gratitude” with a having been gifted something to be grateful to receive. We were grateful for the birthday gifts and holiday gifts that friends and loved ones bestowed on us, and don’t forget that first shiny bike! And of course, our parents also taught us that gratitude was closely related to sending thank you notes for every gift, usually beginning with “I am so grateful…”

Later in life when I became a wife, mother and grandmother that childhood idea of gratitude became much simpler and much more meaningful. Age taught me that gratitude really has little to do with a tangible item or a gift that can be purchased. It’s the small things like simply waking up to live another day, to see a glorious sunset or to enjoy the amazing scent of a fresh flower. It is also actions. When a grandchild gives you a hug or calls just to say hello. When a friend learns that you are feeling ill and brings you chicken soup, it warms your heart and your tummy making you very grateful for their thoughtfulness. These are my “grown up” gifts.

Living in a large city, I often pass people who are clearly living a very difficult life on the street. It is moments such as those I realize how much I have to be grateful for… a warm home, a cabinet filled with food, when I am sick I can just go to a doctor for help. On wintry days, just having warm clothes is such a blessing, for many just a pair of warm socks or a coat makes all the difference.

And then there are the people in my life that gave me a hand up when I needed one. The amazing people willing to teach me- mentor me and inspire me. I have always liked the old African saying “It takes a village to raise a child” and it does. Our parents, teachers, coaches, employers, clergy…each had a part in paving my path and I will forever be grateful to each one. Now, it is my responsibility to do the same for those who enter into my life…give someone a reason to feel gratitude, it will last them a lifetime.


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