Sincere Gratitude for People You Don’t Know

November 26, 2008
Learn how to expand your thanks far beyond the things for which you usually are grateful.

Thanksgiving gratitudeI imagine that you are busy today getting ready for Thanksgiving, whether that means you are having company or traveling to someone else’s house. But for this special week I want to make a comment about giving thanks that, while it won’t take long to read, may help you expand your gratitude as you sit down to give thanks for your food, and perhaps say a few prayers for the economy.

Two years ago, soon after I started the blog, I wrote a piece called Gratitude in the Morning. In there I said that before I eat breakfast I always begin with a simple “Thank you, God,” addressing my sentiment to the spirit or power that I believe supports my presense on this earth. But then I always have two more thanks. One thanks is generally influenced by something I see in the paper. The other concerns the source of my food or physical and emotional well-being.

That day, for example, I saw a story about a mother whose little boy, one day shy of his fourth birthday, was killed in a drive-by shooting. So I expressed gratitude for the people who can give her comfort. I can’t do that directly, but it’s nice to know there are people who are willing to be there for others, just as people have been there for me.

As to the thanks for my physical well-being this week, I know that when the week arrives (as you know I’m writing this several weeks before Thanksgiving), I will be extremely grateful to my husband for the care he gives me as I recover from my operation on Nov. 18. And I will be thankful to the people who raised the turkey, who cooked it, who packaged it, who sold it, etc. so my husband could buy it.

There is something about my daily ritual that always makes me aware of how very many people contribute to my life, and to the lives of others, even though I am aware of only a very small number of them. I am always reminded to look beyond the ordinary things we have and recognize an ever-widening circle of people who make our pleasures possible and help us heal our disappointments.

To give you an example of how thanks can expand far beyond one thing for which one first gives thanks, I am aware at this moment as sit at this computer that I am grateful for the people who designed it, who mixed metals to form sheets of just the right weight of metal, who put the metal into forms so it could be shaped into a frame in which the components of the computer would fit, who assembled all the complex parts, who packaged the computer in the factory, who made the cardboard that went into the packaging, who cut the trees that were ground into pulp for the cardboard, etc.

The list of people who contribute to my life and joy is endless. For while after Gratitude in the Morning I wrote down my thanks every day and shared it on the Support4Change website.

May this week open your eyes to the support we receive from thousands of others.

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