The Gift of Gratitude
Each year, as the days of November move quietly along and Thanksgiving draws near, I like to reflect a moment on gratitude, not only in my own life, but also in the lives of the fictional characters I create. Indeed, gratitude — or the lack thereof — is a recurring theme in my writing.
While in this reflective mood, when I look back over the stories I’ve written, the character who comes most quickly to mind is Rise Childers from Irresistible.
Following the death of both her father and her beloved sister, Rise’s entire perspective on life becomes skewed. Although she’s a talented artist, she can no longer see beauty in the world around her. Her father’s death has brought Rise and her mother to poverty, yet she’s unwilling to accept help. She views any gift as a form of charity — which she’s too proud to accept.
I’m writing romance, so, of course, Rise does find happiness, but only after she learns that giving to others is one more expression of love.
“I want to help you. That’s what people do when they care about someone. They help. They give.” — Samuel Mills, Irresistible
I think, too, of Ed Ferguson, from Summertime.
In contrast to gloomy Rise, he knows the importance of gratitude, and he never misses a chance to count his blessings. He’s a simple man who is grateful for what he has.
In the same breath, he gave thanks for the many blessings the Lord had seen fit to deliver, for his quiet little corner of the world, and for the comfortable routines of his daily life. — Ed Ferguson, Summertime
On occasion, he questions himself, and he finds this simple truth:
Sometimes, in his dreams, the prospect of going west to be with Linnie Mae sounded mighty tempting. But life wasn’t lived by dreaming. His life was the reality of Kansas, the wheat fields, the rolling prairies, the flint that glistened in the rocks, the blue skies and blistering sun overhead. Life was the reality of thunderstorms, hailstorms, and violent twisters. The reality of deep, drifting snows in the winter, and sweet apple blossoms in the spring. Sunflowers, hummingbirds, the warm caress of the south winds. This was his life.
He had everything he needed in Kansas, even if he didn’t quite have everything he wanted. — Ed Ferguson, Summertime
I think what I admire most about Ed is his ability to be happy despite the problems life brings. To learn the art of being content is to take a huge step toward happiness, I think.
* * * *
For me, it’s the little things that often count the most when I consider my blessings. Of course I’m grateful for my home, my husband, my children, and our ever-growing family. Each time we come together to celebrate a birthday, a holiday or another special occasion — or even if we get together for no reason at all — we’re literally surrounded by blessings.
But what about those little things? In the hectic pace of life, it’s often easy to overlook the little moments of joy that happen every day. So, even though my list might seem a bit silly, I’m going to share a few favorite pleasures:
- “Smelly stuff”. That’s what I call the essential oils I buy. Orange blossom is a favorite. So is pine. Eucalyptus. Jasmine. So many more. I’m like a kid at Christmas each time an order arrives. I’d like to say “Thanks so much!” to my friends at Sun’s Eye. Even though we’ve never met, I do count you among my dearest friends.
- Games. I love playing games. Thank goodness I have a family who also appreciates board games. Apples to Apples is my current favorite, and I also love Masterpiece. Clue is my husband’s favorite, and who doesn’t like Sorry? Oh, the hours of fun we have…and the wonderful memories we make each time we play.
- Lightning Bug. Nope, not the flying variety known as fireflies. My Lightning Bug is an app I have on my Kindle. I was fortunate to grab it when it was the “Free App of the Day” at Amazon, but even if you have to pay, it’s worth the price. Truly the most useful app I’ve ever found. Create your own soundscapes, set the timer, and drift off to sleep.
- My Kindle. Yes, speaking of Kindle, I’m so glad I bought mine. I resisted for a long time. I have a PC. I have a Smartphone. Why would I need a Kindle? Well, maybe I don’t need it, but I got it, I use it constantly, and I love it.
- Amazon’s Cloud Drive. More and more, technology is playing an important role in my life, and I’m grateful for the conveniences of “cloud drives”. It’s nice to have my music wherever I go. Just give me a network connection, and I’m good.
- Ginger cookies. I like ginger cookies. So does the parrot. I’m grateful that she’ll usually stop squawking when she gets a cookie.
- “Likes”. OK, so yes, I’ve become part of the “social media” scene. It’s a little thing, I know, but it means so much to me when someone “likes” a post I’ve made on Facebook, or “likes” my author page. When someone takes time to “share” something I’ve posted, that really makes my day.
- MLWR. That stands for “My Little Writing Room”. I spend a lot of time here, so it’s a good thing I like it. I’ve got my desk, my PC, my printer, my bookshelves. I’ve got flowers, incense, and pictures on the walls. It’s my space, my own creative little environment. I’m happy here.
- The football jar. My husband and I have our own “football pot”. We choose the winners for each week’s games. The one with the most wrong choices loses, of course. Loser puts $10.00 into the football jar. Loser also buys the winner a Big Mac. Oh, those have tasted so good! Yeah. I’ve been winning more than I’ve been losing. Best of all, by the end of the football season, we’ll have a nice little chunk of change in that jar, enough for a very nice night on the town.
- Readers. I can’t close out this list without mentioning all the wonderful women — and men — who read romance. It’s because of you that I come to my little writing room each day. It’s because of you that my imagination wanders to different times and places. It’s because of you that I’m able to share thoughts of love and hope and joy and inspiration. You’ve truly blessed me, and I’m grateful for the love and support you’ve shown for me and the stories I tell.
- gratitude :: day three (littlecoffeebeans.com)
- Cornucopia (redtreetimes.com)
- Teach your kids a gratitude attitude (examiner.com)
- 12 Points of Gratitude (berry20nice.wordpress.com)
- Break Forth (torishaw.blogspot.com)