Monday, November 19, 2012

A Cartful of Gratitude

Photo Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include
all things in your gratitude.

                                                    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just like most Americans, I went to the grocery store this weekend to buy food to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.
The store was crowded and the shelves were stocked with all of the things that I buy at this particular time of year: pumpkin, cream cheese, spices, nuts and cranberries.  Depending on the aisle I was in, I could tell people were carefully searching for certain ingredients for recipes traditionally served in their family every year.
For some people, it is just not Thanksgiving unless that particular dish is served.
In my family, it is the stuffing.  My siblings and I only want the stuffing that we had when we were growing up.  My sister-in-law is wonderful and she is very accomodating because she serves our family's stuffing along with a cornbread stuffing and also an oyster stuffing.  People in my family are pretty direct about what they want while walking through the buffet line and always ask when looking at the various stuffings (just to make sure): "Um, which one of these is our stuffing?"
It cracks me up because to us, and I know this is true for other families, Thanksgiving is all about the same food you have always eaten on Thanksgiving.  It is not a day to try out new food.
But if Thanksgiving is about Tradition, it is also about Gratitude.
As I shopped in the grocery store, I thought about how lucky I was to load my cart up with what I needed to serve for Thanksgiving and that when I pushed my cart to the check-out line, I knew that I would be able to pay for it.
Suppose I couldn't?  Suppose I couldn't afford what I needed and could only buy the minimum amount of food?  Suppose I couldn't afford any food and my Thanksgiving was at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter?
Unfortunately, we fall into a common and bad habit of thinking about what we don't have, what is going wrong in our life or what is in our way to making progress.  Instead of thinking about what we don't have, I suggest we flip our thinking and focus on the positives in our lives and be thankful for the wonderful gifts that surround us.
Life cannot be truly rich without gratitude.
It may sound like a small thing but as I placed my items on the conveyer belt at the grocery store, I was truly grateful that I could buy food to feed myself and my loved ones and that I had a car and a home for shelter.  I take these things for granted when I never should.
Being thankful is counting your blessings and this week when I bow my head to give thanks to God for the food and the people in my life, I will have much to be thankful for.

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