“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Marcus Tullius
When I was a little girl, the month of October was all about, exclusively focusing on finding just the right costume, deciding which “Cool” friends or siblings to go trick or treating with, (sometimes I’d go twice on that long – awaited, magical and beguiling night.) The first round was with my girlfriends, then of course, I just had to go with my older brothers, hiding behind their large capes and ingenious costumes, in hopes the neighbors would not recognize the white sheeted ghost, with the uneven-cut-out eyes, that had frequented their door, just two hours before.) 🙂 And of course, we were all signed up for the silent, unspoken but engrossingly fun, marathon of winning the title of ” the biggest pillow case full of candy,” (not counting apples, oranges or healthy granola bars.) November was always exciting as we got an entire week off from school (five days, plus two weekends was undeniably, nine days of bliss.) Cold and windy bliss, but joyous and felicitous none the less. 🙂 Our mini-vacations were filled with a buoyant and nostalgic excitement from our holidays past, as we KNEW exactly what my mom was going to divinely create in her kitchen Thanksgiving day. Her menu always included her renowned, ( impeccably roasted until ‘just right,’) scrumptious, 28 pound Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread stuffing, pungent olives, cranberry sauce, stuffed celery, spiced peaches, mashed potatoes and dreamy sweet potato souffle. (Topped off with sweet, melted marshmallows. 🙂 I can still smell the savory aromas filling our home on that festive day. Another anticipated tradition we always looked forward to was the gathering of our ‘rather large’ family for an abundance of convivial spirit and hours of storytelling on our day of gourmet cuisine and thankful hearts. With our family of nine, our cousins from Louisiana and a fiend or two, our house was packed… overflowing with welcomed laughter, loud conversations, a foot ball game or two on the TV, The wizard of OZ playing upstairs for the little ones and plenty of warm hugs and southern charm . An endless and mesmerizing fire would be kindling all day long in our hearth and ‘for us youngsters,’ there would be sneaky sips of the ice cold beers and fine wines the “adults ” were enjoying. 🙂 I don’t know why we called-it ‘sneaking’ when all the time, THEY KNEW! 🙂 ( Whether pumpkin pie, pecan, dutch apples, mincemeat, or chocolate fudge cake, our side board table within our dining room was always bedecked with a medley of mouthwatering desserts, in which my siblings and I always had seconds , piled high with freshly whipped cream. Those truly were the days!
Now as an adult… everything has changed… October for me, is a time of enjoying each fresh, new fall day with its magnificent array of ardent colors exploding as the season envelops, festooning our home with animated and lively decor, accompanied by the delightful beginning to our ‘season of cooking our favorite, savory and familiar comfort food recipes,’ to accent the chilly, gusty days and evenings that have arrived with this cherished season. I still get excited planning our upcoming Turkey day…I know it will be a serene yet festive day, filled with gladness and joy, our meal will be delicious yet lower in sodium and we may see a friend or two, but our hearts – snuggery – contentment will be full, with just Graham, Kit and myself. (No fireplace, but lots of enthralling candles, their soft glow and warmth, bringing an ambiance of comfort and peace to our home and hearts.) The TV may be on for a bit, with a Football game or an old classic movie or two, and yes, I just have to get my husband a bit roused by playing a few Christmas tunes…(I love to hear him laugh and say “Oh no, here it comes and it won’t stop until mid January.” ) I know too, that our Thanksgiving day seems to grow each year with our lists of what we are most thankful for.(So, I put my turkey in the minute we begin thanking God and by the time we’re done thanking God, the turkey is done.” 🙂 I am just teasing… but truly, our thankfulness and gratitude to God for His many blessings plays a big part in our day, our month, and to be honest, our entire year.
For the dulcet and eminently welcomed month of November, I decided to start a new tradition that I want to share with you, my readers. As we all grow older, our outlook on life changes… We begin noticing and thinking about things that we never thought about in our 20’s and 30’s. We start thinking about our health, the health and well being of others, spending quality time with those we love, having balance in our lives, looking closely at our goals and future, achieving health and exercising our talents and creativity, no matter what it is we “do.” We no longer take friends, (real friends,) and family for granted, for they are a rare gift… Good books seem to be a newly acquired best friend, as we arduously search for knowledge, serenity and guidance, as well as taking stock of all the many blessings we are graciously bestowed with, in our everyday lives. Yes, choosing to have a grateful heart and being happy with all that God has given you, changes the mind and souls perception in an immense way.
I remember a dear friend of mine sharing a story that has stayed with me for over 20 years. While he was becoming sober and started AA with a quiet, laid back-easygoing sponsor, he basically was in a mindset that ‘his life could not get any worse.’ In his eyes, his life was truly ‘the pits.” After a few visits with his newly found mentor, when asked how he was doing, my dauntless and candid friend told him just that. 🙂 His sponsor replied. “Okay…I understand that, but can you think of just one good thing in your life that you are thankful for?” So my friend struggled and finally came up with one positive thing…then the mentor asked him to do it again…soon, his “thankful list” was noticeably longer and his life began looking up. He actually had a new hope deep within, and everything began to start looking a bit brighter. Thankfulness and gratitude changes everything.
In this writing, I want to challenge you this Thanksgiving month with my new November tradition. (Perhaps it is not new at all for you and you already do this…) 🙂 Being that this month has 30 days, I have spent some time pondering all the blessings in my life and I decided to write 30 blessings down on paper.(It was easy to pick 30 and hard not to go over…) (That alone made me thankful. 🙂 Each day I will meditate on one particular blessing in my life that I am incredibly thankful for, so that by the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, my heart will be overflowing with Thankfulness and my heart will be a heart of pure gratitude. If you have time, take the challenge with me and see if it makes a difference. I was telling my husband, in doing this list, it was so easy because all I had to do was ‘think about all the gifts in my life and what my life would be like, if for some reason, the gift was taken from me.( Believe me, It enhanced my gratefulness even more. 🙂
Before I share my list, I wanted to bless you with some very ingenious and creative quotes on this special subject of gratitude. 🙂
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns, I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~ Winnie the Pooh ~ A.A. Milne
“Saying ‘thank you’ is more than good manners, its good spirituality.” ~ Alfred Painter
“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” ~ Kak-Sri
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continually. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Do not spoil what you do have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have, was once among the things you only hoped for. ” ~ Epicurus
My challenge to myself and to you…At least 30 blessings in my life I am grateful for .
1. My relationship with God, His awesome grace, unconditional love and the faith He has given and developed within me is beyond amazing. 2. My husband, he is my very best friend and has been there for me through every season of our lives together. 3.Grantham, our 100 pound briard-dog. Those of you who read the site know my deep love for him goes without saying. With not having children, he is our ‘baby”, toddler, youngster, and high school-er, all rolled into one. 🙂 4. My family. Those still alive (five siblings) and those in heaven. They all have enriched my life with such joy, laughter, camaraderie and love. (We’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly together and still love each other.) 🙂 5. The beautiful best friend I had in my mom for 33 years. There will never be another relationship like the one she and I shared. 6. My friendships. Whether my childhood best friend, ( who 43 years later holds the same place within my heart,) or the abundance of friends over all the years since then, to the last friend I met here in Delaware, the friendships I have been blessed with over the years of my life have been amazing and such a joy to my heart. 7. My good health. Because there was a time I did not have it, I especially am grateful for healing and restoration and a healthy body. 8. Our home.Our home is our castle, our place of safety, beauty and refuge as well as a gathering place of joy and laughter. 9. Our car. It stars everyday, and gets us where we need to go… do I need to say more? 🙂 10. The gift of music.I can’t imagine a life without worship music, dancing, entertainment and song lyrics, (when put to melody, touch our soul in a way, that at times, words alone can’t.) 11. My five senses. What would life be like, to not see a sunset, feel your spouses touch, smell a dutch apple pie baking in the oven, hear a symphony or taste a delicious , creamy, mouthwatering bite of Chocolate chip cookie dough Ice cream? 🙂 12. Natures beauty with its myriad of wildlife . Bucolic country fields of wild flowers, the awesome and mysterious ocean, our rose bushes first blooms, brilliant thunderstorms, and a herd of deer outside our bedroom window in the early morning hours. WOW! 13. Our Bed. When my close brother died suddenly, I chose to have something tangible in my life to remind me of him with the inheritance money he left me. So, Kit and I bought a top of the line, deluxe, supreme mattress and box spring for our southern, four post, Rice bed. It’s dreamy! He would have done the same….Thank you Jim. 🙂 It sure beats the 20 year old mattress we had before…our backs thank us daily! 14. The four seasons. There is no beauty to compare to each joyous season and all the comforts and gifts they bestow upon our lives… what a blessing! 15. The talents God has given me. I believe He placed my ability’s deep inside, and has developed them within me to bring a fulfillment that floods my soul, as I am able to bring others joy and beauty. 🙂 I am so grateful. 16. Healing through loss and crisis times. Usually, when we are young, we don’t think about the hardships life can bring, deep losses, illness, divorce, division…I am constantly amazed at the healing that arrives , at times so unexpectedly and how our souls can truly be renewed from such deep pain. What a gracious gift from God. 17. The gift of prayer . Prayer changes everything.18. Great movies and TV shows to entertain us. (I am thankful I did not grow up in the days of Radio. 🙂 Kit and I are big movie buffs and fans of a few TV sitcoms, and yes, reality shows! (What would we do without “The Voice” with all the fun banter of Adam Levine and Blake Sheldon? ) 🙂 19. The ability to honor God with praise. I am so appreciative to be able to praise and thank God, giving back just a portion of all the wondrous things He has done in our lives. 20. Delicious and healthy, (sometimes not so healthy) food! What would life be like without comfort foods, hot corn on the cob with freshly melted butter, pecan pie a la mode, a medley of fresh greens in a summer salad or a robust and superb, first cup of morning hot coffee? (With pumpkin spice creamer?) Delish! 21. The ability to create and cook HEALTHY meals. Especially being older, where nutrition becomes a main focus instead of the latest fashion or a petite waistline, 🙂 being able to buy and bring forth fresh, healthy ingredients into our meal planning is something I never take for granted. (Were getting close to the end of this blogs challenge 🙂 …) 22. My extended family. I have been very blessed with the best cousins, nephews and nieces in the world, loving in laws and wondrous families we’ve been ‘adopted by’ through our many journeys in life. 23. Truly, the invention of Decaf coffee. Without it, I could not enjoy the comforting aroma and taste of this ever popular, divine beverage. 24. Okay, I am going to squeeze two in together for this one…:) The invention of eyeglasses and dark chocolate. Both of which enhance my days and evenings and my ability to read and write, (I can’t see a word without my glasses and the chocolate inspires me. 🙂 25. (This is so easy.) Thunderstorms and fireflies. What would life be like without their enchantment and magic…? 26. My education. Sadly, I didn’t appreciate the gift of being educated in my younger days, like I should have, but I can’t stop being thankful everyday for it NOW, as it has broadened my life in a myriad of wonderful ways. (Thanks mom and dad.) 27.Living near the ocean shores. kit and I are “water people.” We love the nautical life that graciously comes with living by the haunting inlets, miry creeks, white sandy beaches , vast rivers and breathtaking lakes. We are blessed. (Graham too, even though he hates water…he does love the sea life it so proudly is home to) 🙂 28. My love of our home. There is nothing as passionate to my heart as writing, creating and decorating , (as far as things to do.) (I especially adore Christmas with all its festive ways to share the joy of the beloved season.) 29. The Living Winsomely site. I can never express how much I enjoy writing , researching and sharing ideas for a more winsome and blissful life with you all, my readers. 🙂 OKAY, do you think I will stop at 30? 🙂 The Gift of encouragement. I can’t imagine life without the love and encouragement of God, my husband, dog, friends and family … It is a wonderful feeling to be encouraged and to encourage others. (You know I am going to sneak in just one more.. 31. The ability to love and to be loved back. Truly, love, like prayer, changes EVERYTHING!
That was so easy, painless, fun and definitely a start, to creating a heart that is brimming over with gratitude and thankfulness . I hope you feel uplifted and perhaps motivated to make your own Thanksgiving list.
Happy reflecting, reminiscing, pondering and concluding your “thankful heart” inventory! 🙂 I have put together all the photos in order with the vignette. The visual memories of what I have to be thankful for, add even more appreciation within. 🙂
” Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~William Arthur Ward
Happy Thanksgiving! If you start this challenge a little late in the month, try ‘doubling up’ your blessings or make it a three week challenge! 🙂
PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.