This means family time and hearty meals. It means possible late night shopping excursions, parties, time in planes or in cars, pajamas for hours and days off from work, if you’re lucky.
It also means an extra helping of gratitude. The emphasis on gratitude is everywhere this time of year and it’s never a bad thing. Focusing on the people, places and things that bless our lives and make our hearts warmer can never be a bad thing. I love this time of year because even though we may eat more and become “heavier,” some appear lighter. They appear lighter because they are lit. They are lit from the inside with a glow and a warmth that is perceptible to anyone within their realm and the gratitude they feel for their own blessings seems to pour into their lives in all kinds of ways. They may be more prone to hold doors open, let someone into their lane in a traffic jam, or even allow another customer have the last cream-filled donut (don’t look at me… I probably wouldn’t go that far).
So… it leaves me to wonder… what happens the other 11 months of the year? Where does gratitude go on Black Friday when one stranger threatens another over a toy? Can we dig into that space in the middle of February when we’re freezing, but have a warm bed to sleep in and hot coffee to drink? Can we sit around the table with family in May, the same as we did in November, and be thankful that God gave us these people to share time with? Would it be crazy to go around the table on July 23 and say, “I’m thankful for…”?
A heart of gratitude is more than just a fad. Over the last 10 years, study after study has been conducted about just what happens to people when gratitude becomes an integral part of their daily lives. It’s a free investment into your well-being and yourself that pays dividends beyond anything you could truly imagine. It’s not junk science or new agey, granola BS that is being sold in an infomercial at 3:00am. It’s this: “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.” -Drs. Blaire & Rita Justice.
It’s 100% cliche for me to write this today and I understand that. I understand that I’m emphasizing the regular, not just seasonal practice of gratitude on the day that is most associated with gratitude. Maybe I’m inspired to believe that today you’re more inclined to be inspired. To soak it up and in, to lather, rinse and repeat… maybe you’ll start today, plant the seed and see your gratitude grow.
Almost 18 months ago, a dear friend and I started a daily gratitude practice. We exchange texts each morning that include gratitude statements, professions of self-love and our intention for that day. There is no standard or pressure and I can only tell you that it is just as heartwarming to be grateful that you didn’t really run out of toilet paper as it is that you met the love of your life. Start big. Start small. But most importantly… start.
Gratitude does not prevent tragedy or heartache. There are many days where I sit and struggle to find things to be grateful for, even when I’m well aware that I have more blessings than problems. It has, however, softened those blows. It allows for more hope and more peace and a glimpse of calm during times that feel difficult to get through. It has transformed me in ways that may not be evident to others, but I can see so clearly.
May the spirit and attitude of gratitude carry in, with and through you today, tomorrow and well beyond. May you be crazy blessed with all the love and laughter your heart can handle. And may you know how much you matter. ❤️