Sunday, 12 December 2010

Gratitude

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A friend mentioned recently how her husband thanks her for everything she does, even the coffee she brings him every single morning. She said how different it was from her own family upbringing, where thankfulness was not classed as high a virtue as hard work or love. She spoke about the never-ending miracle of her husband's gracious thankfulness.

Another friend mentioned worrying about a potential lack of thankfulness from her children this year. It's been a hard year for her family; there's just no way she can afford to buy gifts or festive treats and it hurts her heart to see her kids do without.

I suspect that, for many people, this Christmas will not be a time of great spending and piles of gifts under the tree. It made me think back to when I was a child myself. As an adult I think the hardest part is not being able to give gifts, but for children? Yes, kids don't always understand and they do miss the presents. Our last Christmas in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was under sanctions. With no products coming into the country the shops were near empty - nothing to buy even if people had the money. My parents really struggled to find something nice to buy for me and in the end all they could find was... a croquet set.

Now, I have NEVER been sporty and dry African gardens aren't made for croquet. The game was a total flop and yeah... I pouted. I was 8 and didn't have a clue about politics or wars. I wanted a Barbie doll or some books, not a stupid game! By the time I was a teenager that croquet game had become a favourite family joke and a secret code for a totally wrong gift choice. We've laughed about it for four decades now. So much laughter from one disappointed kid moment... seems a pretty good trade off, really. ;-)

Then I thought about my 11th birthday, when we'd moved to South Africa. Emigrating is costly and my parents warned me that there wasn't money for gifts this time. I remember that birthday morning... waking up and seeing one small gift at the bottom of the bed. It was a ruler, eraser and pencil for school. I also remember my mom and dad standing watching me open it... there was sadness in their eyes. Yes, I was disappointed not to find lots of exciting presents, but I was more worried that they'd know I was disappointed.

In that moment I was given the most amazing gift of all - a chance to show gratitude for the love behind the gift instead of just for the gift itself. How easy it is to forget that the best gifts we receive in life aren't the presents themselves, but rather those holding them. Because most times when we wrap up an item for someone we care about what we're really doing is wrapping up our hearts.


Friend, family, lover, child... it's all the same - we give gifts because we want to show how thankful we are to have this other person in our lives.

I am wonderfully blessed to have both family and friends who make my life brighter and better every day. If I had to list every single person I'm grateful to have in my life, the list would be huge. If I had to buy each of them a gift equal to how important they are to me? I'd be in debt for decades! But gratitude can be shown in so many ways - a hug, a smile... a thank you for a cup of coffee. Like my first friend's husband already knows - it's all about showing your appreciation of the other person.

Another blogger, Lori, has chosen to get creative in this time of tighter finance by making gifts. As she puts it:
"... our plans are to get busy in the kitchen, work some of our magic and make some gifts for our loved ones, since we already have most of the ingredients on hand anyways. Sending off some of our homemade love to those we are crazy about ..."

She's written a beautiful blog post about it, but then all her blog posts are beautiful. :-) Her creativity inspired this post of mine. It's my own creative moment of giving back to those people I care about; a chance to say a few words to all my friends and family...

Thank You...

for making me smile,
making me think,
making me try harder, look deeper...
understand better
and for sharing your journeys with me,
both the tears and the laughter.

I am so very Grateful.




All artwork (with appreciation and thanks) from glitter-graphics

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8 comments:

  1. What a beautiful gift of words for those that you hold dear. You are so right about gratitude and I enjoyed reading about your history of what has brought you to be the thankful person you are today. I am one that say's thank you for everything because of the shoes I have walked in and it's taken my husband some time to get used to my constantly expressing thank you to him.

    Thank you my dear friend for your kind words about me...very touching and a nice surprise to read this morning. We have been busy this weekend making goodies since it snowed a lot yesterday and is very cold out...a perfect reason to stay inside, turn the oven and bake for loved ones.

    Happy Sunday! XX

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  2. Your friendship is the most amazing gift, that is, aside from your incredible way with words :) Thank you for being in my life.

    My family and friends are all the gifts I need (though a ticket to England would be a lovely bonus *laughing*). In that, I am abundantly blessed!

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  3. A lovely sentiment, truly felt. My gratitude for all includes you, my "extra sister".

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  4. What a wonderful post, Michelle. I love this. Wishing you well and many blessings.

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  5. LOVE this post's message, M! I have tears in my eyes...he he he...

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  6. Lori
    Every word meant. :-) I loved the posts you wrote for your daughter and son. They were insirational and lovely. I smiled at what you wrote here. I hadn't really thought about it.. I'm also one who was brought up in a "thank you" family. My husband found it really puzzling at first too. Take a ((hug)) for you and the Littles. :-)

    Tint
    Ditto, my friend! ...and thank you for the kind words about my own words. :-)

    den
    Same back... bro' X ;-)

    Hi Daisy
    THank you. Best wishes back to you too. :-) oh... my... WORD - Daisy the Red-nosed reindeer cracked me up! :-D

    Amel
    Thank you, my friend. :-)
    ((HUGS))

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  7. Beautiful post, Michelle. Growing up is about learning, and sometimes that means learning that life isn't just fairytale endings of marrying a prince. It's learning about love instead of glitter...

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  8. Hayden
    beautifullly said!

    "It's learning about love instead of glitter"

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