Thinking Thankful: The Pings to the Heart
By Julia Sneden
Thankfulness is rather like love: it comes in many forms. Like love, which often treads close to a narrow line with hate on the other side, thankfulness sometimes edges mighty close to resentment. Like love, it's an emotion that can be both personal and communal, individual and collective.
Invitation, Thanksgiving ball. Your company, with ladies, is respectfully solicited at Hoar's Hotel, Groton Centre, (Massachusetts) Thursday evening, Nov. 24, 1853 ... Managers: George Hartwell ...
There are sure-fire triggers that stir gratitude in all of us, for instance:
A walk outdoors can bring a kind of generic thankfulness for the beauty of our world, the season, the weather, the place, or even an isolated event, like a sunset or a meteor shower.
Most of us feel a deep, connecting gratitude for our families and/or friends.
Or there's the (slightly guilty) collective thankfulness that we who live in a bountiful country feel, knowing that others across the world are so poor. It goes along with a deeply patriotic gratitude for our country's history, and for our ancestors who were wise enough to seek the freedoms we enjoy. Along with the latter, there’s even grudging thankfulness, expressed by one of my friends who was not happy with the outcome of the recent election. "At least it wasn’t a complete rout," she said. "We'll be forced to work together."
For seniors, there may be fingers-crossed thankfulness for one's good health, or successful recovery, or perhaps simply for whatever life is left to us.
Those are all communal kinds of thankfulness, common to just about everybody, and they're certainly worth a National Day of Thanksgiving. But the kind of thanksgiving that's immediately important to most of us is an intensely personal gratitude for the specific events of our lives.
For me, that often takes the form of thankfulness for things that did not happen. White-knuckler that I am, it's what hits me every time the wheels touch ground at the end a long, successful plane ride (and even more so when one of my loved ones arrives safely at a destination, no matter what the means of transportation).
I also suffer from a kind of vanity-based thankfulness that I didn't inherit my father’s prominent ears, or Aunt Julia's beaky nose. A corollary to that is my gratitude that none of my sons inherited my short stature.
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