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The Art of Gratitude

By Mary Bisciaio

I was standing in a ridiculously long line in a grocery store recently behind a mother with her young daughter. The little girl, Amy, was three. I know that, because she proudly held up three fingers and announced it to me before the candy rack at check-out caught her attention.

She grabbed the closest bar, a gooey, chocolate, caramel, nutty, sweet creation (one of my favorites) and turned pleading eyes on her mother. “Please!”

Mom was up for the challenge, quickly choosing the brightly colored granola bar as a substitute. Little Amy studied it warily then Mom said, “What do you say, honey?”

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Without missing a beat, without conscious thought, and without even looking up she responded, “Thank you.” The response automatic, and it got me thinking. (Remember I’m in a long line.)

We teach our children early to be polite, to respond to another person’s kindness. I admit I probably didn’t explain why it was necessary to my children, but more, brainwashed my kids into being acceptable as the adults they’d become. Now, though, I think gratitude is an art, not just an automatic reply.

Art, as we think of it, elicits an emotional response. Little Amy wasn’t feeling anything when she rattled off the appropriate answer. How many of us do? When we thank the person who holds the door, the person who picks up the item we’ve dropped, or the person who goes out of his way to do us a kindness, do we acknowledge them without really seeing them?

When was the last time I felt real gratitude? When I thanked my mother for her love, my father for his understanding, or my husband for his patience? Those were the easy times. How much harder to really express gratitude to our faithful postal worker who brings the mail through all the crazy Michigan weather. To smile and acknowledge the young man packing the groceries or the bank teller who finishes my transaction.

Recently, my husband and I spent some beautiful fall days in the upper peninsula. As we prepared to cross the Mackinac Bridge back to Mackinaw City, I clutched the four dollar toll in my hand, ready to hand to the woman in the booth. She smiled, informed us we were all set, and opened the gate, but we hadn’t paid. Apparently, the car in front of us had paid for us. Have a nice day! A stranger, an act of kindness, and that automatic response kicked in. We needed to thank them, but they were long gone, weaving their way over the bridge. I suspect calculated to prevent us from catching up to them.

Perhaps the art of gratitude is not just tinged with emotion, but a cry to pay it forward, be grateful enough to pass on a kindness to someone else. A beautiful lesson in thanksgiving to live and teach our children.

With the holiday around the corner, perhaps we need a new tradition at our holiday table. What or who are we truly thankful for? And how do we honor that gratitude with an action?

As we get older, waking each day, we tend to thank our maker. Knowing our children are safe and productive is another silent prayer. To the soldiers that live lives that encompass true sacrifice for all of us, we give our thanks. And watching our leaders on both side of the aisle attempt to make our country something to be proud of makes me sigh gratefully. (Maybe that’s wishful thinking.)

In any case, to all a very blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving. I am truly grateful for those of you who take your valuable time to read my books and my thoughts.

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Mary has lived her entire in life in Michigan. She’s obsessed with the beauty of our state and spends a lot of time by the water. She’s a graduate of Marygrove College in Detroit and attended Saginaw Valley College for her post-graduate work. She enjoyed teaching middle school and high school for 27 years in East Detroit.
After she retired, she started a new career. With more time to read, she got hooked on romance novels and began writing her own. She currently has five novels in both e-book and print on Amazon and continues to find inspiration in her travels and in her imagination.
She lives with her husband of forty-five years, raised two great sons that have given her two great daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.

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1 comment

Barbara Swiftney December 18, 2018 at 10:00 pm

I like this little essay about gratitude. I think that when we are younger, we take so many things for granted. But as we get older and realize we are in the September of our years, we are more conscious of all the good in our lives. I often am grateful for a sunny day, even if it was only for an hour or so. Or i am grateful for a delicious crunchy juicy sweet APPLE.
Sometimes I am grateful for an idea that popped into my head when I wasn’t even looking for it………like the idea to take my granddaughter to a movie, something we rarely do……… Then I am grateful for the Holy Spirit who sends these ideas to me……very unexpectedly.
See, Mary, your article got me to thinking……..

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