Five Things to Be Grateful for at Thanksgiving
There is a hunger for ordinary bread, and there is a hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.
– Mother Teresa
Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, hate less, love more, and all good things are yours.
– Swedish proverb
Several years ago near Thanksgiving I presented a simple exercise to a group of teens attending a weekly support group. The 4X6 index cards contained the following statement: Please list five things that you are grateful for in your life thus far. Your response is private and will not be collected, but I do ask that you complete the exercise now. Verbal discussion afterwards is optional as well.
Not surprisingly, nearly everyone had some kind of reaction. One teen wrote in tiny sentences, getting maximum mileage out of every line and each area of gratefulness. Another girl began to cry, then put down her pen and talked about her grandmother who had died earlier in the year. Another boy read the card, then looked up at me and said, “None of your f—ing business.” “Fair enough,” I told him. “But you still get to keep the card.” Another teen seemed to spend several minutes contemplating what to write and then went to work. Her verbal contributions afterwards were profound, even as she rolled the card into a tight roll and pretended it was a ‘blunt’ as she spoke. One boy filled in three spaces and was unable to list two others.
I did the exercise with them and listed five things that I was most grateful for. They were, and still are: My family (which increased by two since doing the exercise.); my marriage; my country; my faith; my employment.
Personally, I felt the urge to add more lines to this exercise, because there is so much more to be grateful for than whatever fits on five little lines. But that’s what the exercise called for. Here’s your five spaces too, should you care to participate:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Kevin Lee, November 24, 2010