It’s Thanksgiving! That one day a year when we publicly focus on gratitude.
We gather with family and express our thankfulness for food and relationships and the places where we live and the opportunities we have had.
For years, I have styled my self-image as a not very materialistic person, so my car and my house weren’t that important to me; they didn’t define me. (You may have read some of my posts or articles about putting spiritual things first)
Well, my car and my house still do not define me, but I’ve realized that my indifference for them was not non-materialism; it was ingratitude.
I viewed taking care of my car and house as a enormous chores–it was such a pain in the backside to go in for oil changes or call a dishwasher repairman or rake the leaves in the yard.
But this grumbling attitude was actually a form of ingratitude; I expected to have these things (transportation and shelter) so much that I felt like they were owed to me and like I shouldn’t have to bother to care for them.
The reality is that I am immensely lucky to have a decent home and vehicle, and that caring for these things is a way to show that I appreciate them and do not take them for granted.
Caring for these basic goods is different from fawning over my expensive new counter tops or shiny paint job (things I do not have, btw) and becoming obsessed with the appearance and presentation of my material possessions. That would be vanity.
But gratefully maintaining the goods my family has is not vanity; and I was wrong to confuse those two before.
So this year, I will not (try not to) throw a fit about re-caulking the bathroom or vacuuming the van’s interior. This house and this van are an abundance of gifts for my family, and not everyone is so lucky as to have these chores to perform.
St. Paul teaches in Corinthians that we have received all from God: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1. Corinthians 4:7). No one owes me folded laundry and neither does God, so the attitude most in accord with reality is simply gratitude for each day, for life and for the path he has given me.
Of course, I am also very grateful for my husband and children and freedom to worship God and write and to be safe, and probably a million things I haven’t even thought of. But at least there is somewhere to start.
What are you thankful for this year? Are there any new realizations of things to include this time around?