The other day I went for a walk; just took my time, strolling down the main streets of town, relishing in the sunshine and the sights around me. People were lined up for ice cream, waiting patiently, likely mulling over the multitude of eccentric flavours the shop had to offer. Couples sat on park benches with coffee, walked small, wobbly children across the street, browsed for antiques, guitars, and cute, little knick knacks with clever verbiage like "Friends don't let friends do stupid things...alone." Everything delighted me; I felt like I was walking through the middle of a smile. It was a lovely, warm day, albeit windy, and the heated breeze was fiercely pushing all of the fallen and falling leaves around at my feet and around me as I walked. I looked at those leaves, still holding onto their stunning, burnt colouring and thought to myself, "it looks like they are dancing, they seem so joyous." It was as though, on that lovely, fall day, the leaves were saying farewell. They were performing one last, little dance to say goodbye. It is their time to go; the trees are growing more bare by the moment as the wind blows even stronger today and will surely soon bring inevitable snowflakes.
So what does all of this have to do with giving thanks? Well, my simple thought, on reflecting on what I am thankful for this morning, is that I am thankful for knowing what being thankful looks like. It is really such an easy thing to be thankful; to carry gratitude with you wherever you are and in whatever you are doing. It's about having a solid awareness that even the simplest of things, like dancing leaves are worth giving thanks for.
I grew up in a small trailer with an amazing family; a little home full of not much stuff, but a ton of love and light and laughter. We didn't have much. I wore hand me down clothes, we built the things we needed and grew and raised and caught the food we ate. Even a lot of our possessions, bikes and Barbies, came from someone else, already well loved. And so I was raised with gratitude for the generosity of others and with an appreciation for hard work, self reliance, and contentment with simplicity.
Gratitude isn't about relishing in having all of our dreams come true, or in having our lives transform into our idyllic visions of how things should be, or in getting everything or anything that we want. It's not about looking to the sky and shouting "thank you!" when things finally go right; it is not a sometimes thing. True gratitude is something we have to carry with us every day and have for everything and everyone. It is about knowing that everything is worth giving thanks for. A hot shower, painting and not caring what the painting looks like - just that you are creating something, clean sheets, coffee, laughing with a stranger while you're stuck in a line up, getting a good nights sleep, listening to the rain, the stunning burst of happy colours in a bouquet of flowers, tears that remind you of your own heart, a pretty, little bird, the lessons in life you learn, even the hard ones, as you intentionally push forward through your own existence...... smiling at the leaves even when they are going.
So on this Thanks Giving day, I give thanks for knowing what thankful looks like. Knowing what it feels like; how it can roll around in your brain and sit in your heart. I work on carrying that thankfulness with me beyond this day and into every day.