*RE-Defined: Thanksgiving

Saying, “thank you” after someone handed me a gift used to be my ultimate expression of gratitude. That’s how I was raised. Once I had a family of my own, my husband and I encouraged similar behavior for our own daughters. Make sure you say thank you we’d sing in unison. I thought it was a common cultural practice. As a result, I began to reprimand others for not making their children thank me for birthday or holiday presents. Things had gotten out of hand. Don’t get me wrong. There is significance in thanking a person when he or she hands you something. In fact, I still believe it’s a gracious response. But somehow my concept of gratitude was limited to just this act.

I needed a gratitude overhaul.

After careful soul searching, I figured out the problem. I was seeking gratitude when I should have been living in a spirit of gratitude. But how? How does one achieve this? I decided that one way was to send fewer material items and provide more authentic expressions of appreciation to people who had impacted my life. I decided to be gratitude.

The process was simple.

I chose a month and then told one person each day how grateful I was for him or her being in my life. Loved ones felt compelled to return the favor. As a result, it became a sort of gratitude exchange. My intention was to make them feel valued. But they also wanted me to feel equally loved. This even and immediate trade happened with all of the people that I contacted, except my goddaughter, Kotrish.

When I told Kotrish that I was grateful for her presence, this young lady’s response was, “Thanks. That was unexpected.” My old self wanted to judge the reply. But I remembered the purpose was to appreciate others, no matter the reaction. I accepted it and continued on.

So, the month of gratitude ended. Christmas had come and gone. A new year had begun.

The memory is still clear. I had just returned home from work. Waiting on the dining room table was a salmon-colored envelope addressed to me. Inside was a matching salmon-colored thank you card. Kotrish had handwritten a note filled with ten separate thank-you statements. I cried. It meant so much to me that I carried it in my inside purse pocket for weeks. The blurred blue ink shows how much I’ve held it. Its tattered edges reveal how much I have opened it. I thought this would be the only card.

But I was wrong.

Her testimonials continued. For the next year, she sent four more handwritten thank-you cards every other month. Each one is different. Each one is heartfelt. Each one is better than any other gift I could ever receive from her.

I know it is customary to exchange store-bought presents during this time of year. But perhaps you can gift your loved ones with an additional item. Maybe this holiday season, you can offer an expression of gratitude. Jewelry will fade and clothes will soon be outdated. Telling others how much you value them? Well, that could last an entire lifetime.

*This was originally published in Natural Awakenings November 2015.

Behind the Kwote: Gratitude is a Way of Life

gratitude

Here in the States, we pause and give thanks on the third Thursday in November, typically with our families. My family, immediate and extended are no different. You can find any one of us sitting around a table of food, perhaps holding hands and thoughtfully announcing what we’re thankful for. But remove the holiday, and I’m not convinced the sentiment remains.

Take my cousins for example. No matter what birthday or Christmas gift I sent, they never used to call to say, “Thank you,” or even text an appreciative message.

Similarly, my brother and sister-in-law rarely thanked me for the birthday or Christmas gifts I’d send to their four children. Even if presents blatantly came from me, without Dwight’s knowledge, my brother-in-law would call or text my husband, unless he heard these words: That came from Kathy, man. Then, he would reach out and thank me.

I wasted hours, days, weeks fixated on solving this “dilemma.” If I held the door open for a stranger, more than likely the person would mutter, “Thank you.” If I gave a coworker a going away card, then the colleague would probably say, “Thanks!” But some family members? Nope.

I was hurt.

I was hurt, until I began keeping a gratitude journal. Here is where I began writing five things I was thankful for each day. I was hurt, until I completed a gratitude meditation. Here is where I learned to be grateful. I was hurt, until I spent 30 days expressing gratitude to friends and family who’d positively influenced my life. Here is where I learned to stop seeking external gratitude.

It took about five years, but now, I live a life of gratitude. Consequently, Thanksgiving is meaningless to me in terms of giving thanks. I give to whomever I can, as often as I can, with no expectation of verbal reward.

What about you? Are you more thankful on Thanksgiving? Is it important to hear the words thank you? Does it matter?

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: ANOTHER DEED OF CHANGE

Reblogging in honor of Thanksgiving, which is upon us. You still have time to thank someone each day for their presence in your life. And I’m sure Amreen would appreciate a few more bloggers to participate in #The100DeedsOfChangeDrive

Gratitude to Amreen over at https://painttheworldwithwords.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/30-days-of-gratitude-another-deed-of-change/ for allowing me to participate in her campaign #The100DeedsOfChangeDrive Contact her so that you can write about one way to change the world 🙂

aka The Versatile

Welcoming and presenting Dr. Kathy Garland, author of ‘Kwoted’, who have authored today’s #100DeedsOfChange article and shares her experiences of how gratitude and appreciation can work wonders in making a difference, not just in the society, but within, too! Before we could read her contribution, let us know her better.

abouttheauthor

kwoted_twitterDr. K E Garland is a native to Chicago, IL, but has lived in Jacksonville, Florida for the past 20 years. Her personal quest is to motivate through writing. For example, her self-published book, Kwoted, includes original and motivational quotes. Her creative nonfiction has also appeared in For Harriet. She can be followed on Twitter @kegarlandwriter.

Visit her website: https://kwoted.wordpress.com.

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30 Days of Gratitude: Another Deed of Change

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