READY: On having an attitude of gratitude

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mary Ready

Written in the inside cover of my address book are the words “Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”

I have to look at that proverb almost daily because, like some humans, I tend to whine about what I DON’T have instead of being grateful for the things I DO have.

With Independence Day having been celebrated yesterday, we can remind ourselves that as a nation we do still enjoy many freedoms and opportunities that are denied in some other places around the world. Granted, our current government seems hell bent on taking away many of the privileges of American citizenship, but let’s be thankful for the remnants we still have and exercise the freedom to vote the rascals out.

But I digress.

A few weeks ago in one of my columns, I was fussing about folks who don’t write thank you notes for gifts and favors. I pointed primarily to the younger generation with my fault-finding (as do most old fogies like me). I even went on about social note paper, pen and ink, proper margins, and impeccable grammar and spelling.

Shortly afterwards, two friends shared with me the content of thank you messages they had just received. Those two notes bear no resemblance to the socially acknowledged   etiquette I described for written expressions of gratitude.

Scrawled on plain paper in almost illegible penmanship, the note said:

“Thank you so much for the money you gave me for graduation. I’m saving up for a laptop to use at college and your gift really helps. I appreciate you remembering me and am also thankful for your prayers for me. Love, Keaton”

Keaton is an 18-year-old recent graduate who has brain cancer and a poor prognosis. He is not responding to treatment. Yet, he has a great optimism and hope for his future while at the same time helping other young people suffering from dread illnesses. He knows how to appreciate every day of his life with the family and friends who are inspired by his faith and courage. 

From a preacher friend of mine comes perhaps the oddest thank you note I’ve ever read. Apparently, someone had invited her to church during a very dark time in her life, and the people of the congregation had shown her kindness. I am sharing it completely unedited:

“You of a Church,

I lost the only daughter in January. I from it was every day, which sank to the bottom of the deep sea. I was invited by Mis Tina so that it might go to a church on June 13. Many people still spoke to me who do not understand language. I am wrapped in a warm thing. I will return to Japan next week. Please lead so that Kim grows up into good child. I am looking forward to the day which can meet again. Please let me donate money a little.”  “YingYunguen.”

This grandmother, who had come to America to help family members through a tragedy, included a donation with her letter, but she gave that pastor and his church far more than money. She reminded them of the true purpose of any church. And that is to wrap others in a “warm thing.” The “warm thing” is the love of God and His great compassion for those who are hurting. 

Both Keaton and Ying had every reason to focus on their own sorrow and no particular reason to express gratitude.

Yet they did and with a sincere heart.

From their example, I can only hope to thank more and complain less.

Most of all, may I have the compassion, borne of gratitude for my many blessings, to wrap others in a warm thing.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.