I don’t know many folks who don’t like receiving a beautifully wrapped gift. However, I do know many, who are incapable of seeing beyond the charm of the tangible gifted object. Those folks are unable to feel deeper into the meaning of the intended gesture, reason being, they are running low on gratitude.

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving, although culminated in a day, is a representation of a much greater concept. It could even be considered a life philosophy. Not just a day that comes and goes, but a reminder of the magnitude of giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for a variety of reasons, a personal one being that it marks the anniversary of my engagement. More broadly, it reminds us of humanity and the power of giving. It is a day that does not divide or discriminate. Instead, it unites and strengthens. Without gratitude we suffer. We suffer because everything is then ordinary or expected or disappointing. We lose the ability to recognize and honor the gifts from the everyday mundane magic to the extremely remarkable once-in-a-while magic. Sadly, our hurried lives predispose us to be negligent, often overlooking simple pleasures and forsaking basic needs met.

The good news? It’s never too late. Never too late to develop an attitude of gratitude.  As human beings I don’t think we’ll ever stop wanting or acquiring things, but maybe we can better understand their importance and prioritize appropriately their meaning in our lives. An ungrateful path may lead us to wanting endlessly, never able to fully fill our desires. Take a moment to take a self inventory and be reminded that sorrow or pain does not cancel out the positive things in our lives. In this moment what do you feel? Are you breathing? Are you healthy? Are you clothed and fed and loved? (and chances are that if you’re reading this, you have a computer too).

Be mindful that your little ones are watching you. Watching and learning how to be giving and thankful. They are developing their own value system based on their experiences and vicariously through the experiences you share with them. Always consider this special audience when interacting with others as these are the early experiences that may shape the rest of their grateful lives! We needn’t live by comparison. Not in wanting based on how much others have and not in self-punishing or invalidating our own feelings by comparing to other people’s struggle. Gratitude is about recognizing and giving thanks for exactly what we have.

Me? I’m grateful for my life. My ability to think and feel and express myself. I’m grateful for good health (and health insurance). My family, my friends, my inspirations, my supports. I’m grateful for big smiles on small faces with space between their teeth. For smart words from small people with thoughtful minds. For big kisses and tight hugs from giggly girls with big hearts. For wild imaginations endlessly weaving the story of our life. Grateful for the ocean and the stars and all of nature’s wonders. Thankful for all the moments, the difficult ones for paving the way for the wonderful ones and the wonderful ones for giving the strength to handle the difficult ones. Thankful for all the moments of my life that teach me to be grateful.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson