World Gratitude Day

September 21 is World Gratitude Day, a day celebrated since 1966 when an international group meeting in Hawaii agreed to designate a day to express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found in the world.

Maui rainbox

Maui rainbow, 2011

I haven’t taken much time to be grateful in the last couple of years. I’ve been grieving the loss of my parents and managing their estates. I was busy with editing and publishing two novels. And I’ve been following with increasing disdain the political campaigns, while trying to maintain my dedication to our electoral process. There’s a lot to worry about in this world, along with the things to be grateful for.

But as my father said whenever I complained to him about the difficulties I faced, “That’s a high-class problem to have.” And he was right. I don’t worry about having food on the table, a roof over my head, or enough money each month to pay the bills. I have a lot to be grateful for.

On this World Gratitude Day, I am grateful for:

My family. I’ve lost my parents, but I have a wonderful husband and two great children. I’ve been married for almost 39 years, and both of our children are independent and productive adults. I have a sister and brother that I like as well as love (and their families along with them), and a good mother-in-law and other fine in-laws who have made my life easier over the years.

My friends. I may have few childhood acquaintances with whom I am still in contact, but I have a good college friend whose company I enjoy. I’ve maintained many relationships with the people I worked with, and have built even stronger friendships with some of them since I retired. I’ve been welcomed into a supportive community of writers in Kansas City, and the collective talent of this group awes me.

My health. I’m getting older—no doubt about it—and some problems are creeping up on me. But they are minor at this point, and I can enjoy all the activities I want (and even some strenuous endeavors I’d just as soon leave behind me).

My resources. I like my home and we’ve owned it outright for many years. We won’t be able to stay here forever, but we’ve enjoyed it for 32 years. My husband and I saved diligently when we worked, and we reap the benefits of our frugality now. We argue more over how to get rid of the things we have than we do over how to spend limited resources.

My focus. I set a goal ten years ago to publish a book before I died, and I’m about to publish my third novel. It’s been a steep learning curve, but an amazing experience to open myself up to creative endeavors after burying my talents for so many years.

. . . I could, of course, go on and on in this list of things I’m grateful for. The beauty of nature. The places I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited. The people who have passed through my life. Beaches. Chocolate. The list would never end.

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Photo from Flickr: Keoni Cabral, The feeling of sun on fingertips

There is a risk of sounding like the Pharisee when recounting all the things I have to be grateful for. I fear it sounds as if I’m boasting. True gratitude requires humility, a recognition that everything we have began with those who came before us and that ultimately we received these gifts from a higher power. We all start naked and helpless in this world and cannot achieve anything without the help of others.

My father told me shortly after my mother died, “Your mother and I had a blessed life.” Actually, he told me this many times, but despite the suffering he went through caring for her in the last years of her life, he said it after her death with conviction. And so on this World Gratitude Day, in humility I recognize that, thanks in large part to the strong beginning my parents gave me, my life has been blessed also. And I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on my blessings.

What are you grateful for on this World Gratitude Day?

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