Our Blessings Haven't Ended, Why Have our Thanks? How to Keep A Gratitude Attitude in a Black Friday World
A Day of Thanks
When I began this hub, just days after Thanksgiving, I was reeling! Oh, my Thanksgiving had been beautiful, albeit rather small this year, spent with my husband, father, sister, and brother-in-law. My brother-in-law had just lost his mother a few days earlier, so there was a definite sadness in the air, but he gave a beautiful blessing at our Thanksgiving table that day and shared with us some old photos and old stories about this beautiful soul we had all come to love. That day in our somewhat muted celebration, we gave thanks that God had brought Gloria into our lives, provided for our families in a difficult economy, and decorated the extended family with two new babies. It was truly a time to be thankful, and we were.
Fast forward -- Black Friday -- when I sat dumbfounded in front of the television eating my turkey noodle soup. I used to have fun on the Friday after Thanksgiving, standing in a crowd outside of Target, laughing and joking with other silly people like myself who had woken up at 5:00 a.m. so that we would be assured of getting a free donut and hot chocolate on our way to end-caps stocked with sale items. It was a time of camaraderie with people I had never met, and would probably never see again until the following year's fun.
But on this day I watched in amazement as a shopper threatened to stab people. Over what? Merchandise? Jumping line? Not really a morning person? I must tell you, I have become absolutely puzzled by humanity. We have become a people of rage and hate, a society that doesn't care about the way it acts or the language it uses. We tell our children that it is wrong to bully, and then give them video games where they practice killing and blowing up things.
Black to Blacker
Just when I thought that things could not get any worse, I sat sickened at what I was seeing on the television once again. Befuddled in my emotions, I cried out for the children of Newtown and their teachers. I cried for families and friends. I cried for the mother of the shooter. I also cried for the shooter, because mental illness is not a crime and we, as a society, want to brush it under the rug. So then I cried for us, and our part in all of this.
A Little Light
- 'If you do good, you'll feel good': Ann Curry explains origins of #26Acts of Kindness - U.S. News
After being in Newtown, I woke up the next morning and thought about what could be done. What is the answer to this kind of national suffering? And I remembered a moment on the edge of Darfur, when I came upon a woman who was elderly and in the hospi
Out of the Woodwork
It seems that on that day we all got shocked back into our realities. The season no longer was about buying the best gift at the best price. No, it became something much deeper and meaningful than that. Ordinary citizens followed Ann Curry's "26 Acts of Kindness" in honor of the victims. Parents taught their children how to help others without thought of reward. People in communities joined together to hold prayer services and candlelight vigils. Donations were sent to help with funeral expenses.
Yes, I suppose it was about gifts after all. These were gifts of self, gifts of compassion, gifts of hope, and gifts of love.
And the greatest of these is love.
Five Things To Stop Negativity in the World
- Educate Yourself: What are the problems? Don't just trust the Internet to tell you. Watch the news, check out the filth and negativity that appear on the television shows that are too accessible to our youth, print out lyrics to songs that are being played on your child's electronic gadgets and at school functions, pay attention to the ratings on video games, know what your child is doing at all times and set limits. (My last exchange student got so mad at me because I wouldn't let her see a rated "R" movie that "all the other kids" were allowed to see). Keep track of your children on Facebook and other social media sites. I have been flabbergasted at the lack of control and guidance parents of my students have in their lives. Facebook is full of voyeurs and parents need to be aware of that. Have your child's password, and set limits about computer and Facebook time.
- Open Your Eyes: You are part of this world and it is your responsibility to help "take the bull by the horns." You can't just set back and hope that something will change; you have to help change it.
- Write Letters! Sure letter-writing seems to be a lost art, but it is one of the easiest and most effective methods I know. E-mails in the in-box can be ignored and deleted at the push of a button, but letters arriving to a company mail room en masse are hard to ignore. If you want the filth and negativity decreased, you have got to let the companies who make it available know that you don't want it! This means presidents and CEO's of television, movie, and music studios, production companies, stores, advertisers, and shareholders; as well as the FCC and the Supreme Court.
- Start and/or sign a petition: Whitehouse.gov is an excellent place to start, or send a petition directly to the person in charge of the entity with which you have a problem.
- Teach your children the proper ways to work out their angers and frustration. Talking to the person they have a problem with, writing a letter to the manager of the restaurant where they were treated poorly, and starting a petition to get a skate park approved by the town board are all much better options than throwing tantrums or hurting someone.
Help to be Grateful
Fifteen Things To Be Grateful For
- You woke up this morning: No matter how bad you might feel or how much you dread something you have to do, waking up beats the alternative.
- It could always be worse: Okay, that's a hard one to swallow sometimes, especially when you feel like you've hit rock bottom and you have no idea how to climb out of it. But just look around. Mom used to always remind me that you can always find someone who is worse off. Mom was right!
- Cold, wet, dreary weather: I don't like cold weather. Correction, I can't stand cold weather, but if I didn't have it I'm certain that I would not appreciate the warm sunshine.
- Boring days or nights with nothing to do: They are a chance to re-energize and to appreciate all of the action-packed days or nights.
- Loud children at another table in the restaurant where you are trying to enjoy dinner with friends: Be grateful for the gift of sound; some people can't hear.
- Bright light that interrupts sleep: Be grateful for the gift of sight; some people can't see.
- A stumped toe/a broken leg: Be grateful for feet and legs; some people don't have them.
- Rude people who almost run over you with their bas-karts in Walmart: They must be having a bad day. Be grateful that this is your opportunity to try to change it, and give them a smile.
- Disagreements: They open up dialog, which can lead to understanding.
- Animals: I am grateful for being able to look out and see deer and rabbits, and for counting among my past pets birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and even my sister's skunk, Flower. Animals bring so much joy and beauty to life.
- Friends: Whether nearby or far away, friends reflect the pathways of our lives, connecting us to who we were, are, and want to be. They form a tapestry that provides the color and texture of our very being.
- Strangers: They are opportunities to make more friends.
- Family: Immediate or extended, ancestors or newborn, even the crazy aunt, all add to the tapestry with a fine silk thread of history. Regardless of any skeletons in the closet, you can be grateful for all of the unique quirks that make your family stand out.
- Marriage: Something that doesn't seem to be held in high regard anymore, which is truly a shame. Whether you are newly married, or you are celebrating seventy-five years together, you can be grateful that someone actually loves you enough to make that first commitment into the union, and recommits each day by staying in it. It's not easy to live with me. I know that. I am so grateful that I have found someone with whom I will celebrate twenty-seven years of marriage in May.
- God: Without him, there would not be numbers one through fourteen.