One of the gifts I was happiest about giving this holiday season was A Year of Gratitude set. It’s actually quite a simple gift…beautifully boxed, it’s basically 52 blank, folded cards and 52 envelopes. There is a small booklet enclosed with ideas on how to write a good card and another section to keep track of not only the things during the week/months to be grateful for but also to track the cards that have been sent.
The idea is that the recipient of the set writes one card a week to someone they’re grateful for… grateful in general or grateful for a specific action they’ve performed, either presently or at some earlier date. (i.e. perhaps the card might be used to reconnect with an old acquaintance that affected the writer’s life in a positive way). At the end of the year, assuming they’ve tracked all the cards they’ve sent and all the reasons they had to be grateful even if a card wasn’t sent for that specific thing, not only will they have a good list of positive experiences but hopefully a new, more grateful attitude that allows them to reach out to others and affect them in an encouraging way as well.
In a world with so much focus on the negative and just coming out of our own upheavals of the past couple years, this seems like something I need to be doing more of myself. Hence, a new focus on my blog is going to be Gratitude, though without the pretty cards and envelopes.
WEEK 1 –
My first gratitude post has to be for my parents – two people that have stuck by me no matter what. Even when I wasn’t the girly girl my mother was, or the most considerate of teenagers at times, and even when I knew everything about everything in my early 20s, they’ve been there every step of the way.
I could give you a million examples and then some of the ways they’ve helped us through things over the years but here are just a few….
- My dad coming up to work in the rain and mud for days with my husband and older son the year the tree fell on our garage roof.
- When I went into early labour with Son No. 1 but was medicated and sent home to “wait it out a bit,” to keep me from possibly being on my own without help at the precipitous moment, my mother stayed with us for 2 weeks making an otherwise trying time into memories that still make me laugh 28 years later.
- When I fainted while visiting my dad in hospital after his heart attack and he was more concerned trying to reassure me he was okay than worrying about his own immediate plight.
- My mother rushing to the hospital when my son broke his leg. It wasn’t until we knew he wasn’t going to need surgery that she dared to breathe and looked down to notice that in her haste to get out of the house and to us at the hospital she’d put on shoes that didn’t match.
- Or, the year we were in Maryland and our house in Pittsburgh flooded and knocked out the heat after a pipe break in the middle of winter. My parents not only discovered it (because they took it upon themselves to drive an hour each way every week or so and check things out for us), but my dad was the one who walked barefoot into that freezing water in the basement to try and stem the flow of the water.
It’s kind of funny actually how nearing the end of my 40s when I thought I was pretty much set to begin taking care of them as they aged, they’ve stepped up and been the rock we needed as my own little family has transitioned these past 2 years, probably even more than I ever knew they were capable of. They’re full of surprises…..creativity, willingness beyond measure, and of course long-term experience.
Instead of declining as I expected as they both moved past 70, they joined right in hefting boxes from place to place, driving trucks/cars full of stuff, making plans, and filling spaces we just couldn’t extend to ourselves in our physical and mental exhaustion – things like keeping our flagging spirits up at the worst of times, visiting often no matter which house we were in, being animated and full of ideas about decorating a new home, giving me a focus with the perfect photography project to get me excited about the new place, and helping to move things from room to room, building beds and desks, etc. till we got it all sorted. It’s made them not only much-loved as they were before, but invaluable tools in the arsenal we needed to allow us to come to our new place.
Suffice it to say, I’m grateful…I’ve been grateful for a long time, but it isn’t all the time that I say it so now I am. My mother’s constant refrain when I inadequately try and voice all this to her is, “Where else would we be?” I’m grateful and I love them not only for what they bring to us, but for what they allow us to bring to them. I was given a great gift in these two – a gift that is always present and keeps on giving. If I’m half what they are to me to my own children, I’ll have done very well indeed.
I’m inviting all of you to join me on this journey for one week or for the next 52 weeks. If you do decide to join in with a post of your own, link back here so that I can come read your post as well. Here’s to making a more positive 2016!