Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

By Shannon Penrod

I got concerned this year that I had missed Thanksgiving.  I walked into stores expecting to see pumpkins and pilgrims that would signal to my Pavlovian brain that it was time to buy turkey…and oh yes, to remember to be thankful.  Instead I walked into stores and was bombarded by full on Christmas.  I almost had a panic attack when I ran into Wal-Mart for panty hose the other day and was assaulted by a sign that said, “Only 44 more day ’til Christmas!”  Only 44 more days!  Holy…oh, wait a minute…44 days is  long time.  What happened to Thanksgiving? Judging by Wal-Mart’s shelves it’s non-existent and Wal-Mart is not the only one to jump the gun a bit.  Did all of the world’s retailers sit down and have a secret meeting where they decided to just skim over Thanksgiving this year and just plow right through to Christmas?  Is the economy so bad they just assumed that none of us had anything to be grateful for?  I was mulling this over, and was actually afraid that I wouldn’t remember to be grateful without all the commercial prompting, when I had Grinchesque moment.     Stores don’t remind us to be grateful, life does.

I remember years ago hearing Reverend Beckwith speak.  He was talking about all the little things that manage to bring us down on any given day.  He asked us to stop and consider that whatever was gripping us might be the very thing we should be grateful for.  We might be frustrated that we have a sink full of dirty dishes to clean, but somewhere in the world there is a homeless person who is dreaming of being able to have dishes in a sink that need to be cleaned.  Talk about a reality check!  I remember going home and saying really nice things to my noisy and on the verge of breaking dishwasher, not to mention looking at all of the little blessings that I had taken for granted.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutia of our lives and to view it as unsubstantial.  Yet, when the mundane acts of life are threatened or taken away they are exactly the things we wish for.  We move through our days unaware of how lovely it is to be able to grocery shop until something prevents us from doing it.  It could be as simple and as temporary as a cold or something as serious as long-term illness or the death of a loved one.  Suddenly those simple tasks, the things done mindlessly on a Tuesday afternoon, take on new meaning.  We long for them.  What we wouldn’t give for just one day of blissful normalcy.

As I was worrying about the commercial wipe-out of Thanksgiving and what it would mean to my spiritual developement this week, I noticed that the posts of a high school friend had changed on Facebook.  Her husband and family were posting for her.  Stage four cancer had made it impossible for her to chat with us anymore.  Yes, life reminds us to be grateful.  When I might have complained about the long lines at the grocery store I remember what a privilege it was to be standing in line.  When the thought crossed my mind that gas prices are high I remembered how lovely it is to be able to pick my child up from school and talk to him about falling leaves.  I was reminded that everyday is a gift.

My high school friend departed this earthly world yesterday.  I know that she is at peace now and in a better place, but I can’t help wondering what she would have traded to have one more Tuesday filled with laundry and dishes and shopping as well as the laughter and love that tag along with them.  Yeah, I was definitely reminded to get my grateful on.

As a kid we would always decorate our Christmas tree and then stand back and admire it before we piled tinsel on it.  Occasionally someone would suggest that maybe we shouldn’t put tinsel on it at all.  That kind of thinking never won out because invariably someone would pipe up and say, “Every thing looks better with tinsel on it!”   As a child I agreed.  I’m not so sure anymore.  I suspect there are some things in life that no matter how much tinsel you put on it, there’s no improving it.  What I do know is that no matter how much commercial tinsel gets heaped on Thanksgiving I can and should remember to count my blessings.

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by Shannon Penrod

The other day I had to do something I had been dreading for two years.  I had to deliberately walk away from my child in a crowded store and hope that he could find his way to the front of the store to have me paged. Now before you start calling me a horrible parent he was in the care of a responsible therapist the entire time.  This was a program that we have been working on for a while, and he was even told before we went into the store that I would disappear at some point.  Still, it was terrible.  Horrible.  I believe in rehearsing things, it’s a good thing.  Still, I felt like a criminal walking away from him.  I walked to the front of the store and waited in a concealed place and the entire way I thought of all the Moms all over the world who try every day to keep their children safe in this dangerous world.  I especially thought of the Moms in Haiti.  We were performing a safety drill, play acting and it was soul wrenching.  What must it be like for the Mothers in Haiti?  I can’t begin to imagine.  But it sure put things in perspective for me.

My son Jem was a champ.  He did exactly what he was supposed to do and then some.  He walked to the front of the store and asked the man at the counter to page his mom Shannon because SHE was lost!  The workers at the store had been informed that we would be doing the drill and they all congratulated him on a job well done.  I came out from my hiding place and my son and I hugged for a long time.  I hugged him for his ongoing brave battle through Autism, I hugged him for passing the test, I hugged him for every mother who has ever lost a child in a store and wondered if she would ever see him again.  Then I hugged him for every mother in Haiti.  It was a long hug. He didn’t seem to mind.  

We went home and spent more than a moment being grateful for our health, the roof over our heads and each other. Before we went to bed we practiced what to do in case of an earthquake.  Rehearsing is important, gratitude is more important and perspective is everything.

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