If you look at Twitter and Facebook, you see a lot of people including the word “grateful” in their posts. It has become almost as common as the smiley-faced emojis that grace many of our digital communications today. I started to reflect on this word and what it means, especially around the holidays.
I recently heard Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, speak about this topic on the radio. He said that we are not grateful because we’re happy, we’re happy because we’re grateful.
I asked my kids what they are grateful for.
“I’m grateful for my dog,” my younger daughter said without missing a beat. “Oh yeah, and Chick-fil-A.”
My teenager eyed me suspiciously when I asked her the same question, most likely knowing I wanted to put her answer in a blog. She refused to comply.
So, maybe it’s harder to talk about gratefulness than we think. It’s not that we’re not grateful, it’s that gratefulness sometimes seems corny when we talk about it out loud. Therefore, we either ignore it all together, or include it in a cute social media post, punctuated by an emoji to give it emphasis and denote strong feelings.
Another obstacle to understanding this concept is that gratefulness seems like a lofty concept that should be reserved for the big things in life, but as I started to think more deeply about it, I decided gratefulness might just be in the details …
To wrap my head around this, I made a simple list of things I am grateful for over the past few days. I am grateful that both of my children agreed to sit down and play a card game with their family. I am grateful that my younger daughter wanted to go on a bike ride with her parents. I am grateful that when my older daughter got a piece of glass in her foot that her little sister came to her rescue. Oh, and I am definitely grateful for salted caramel ice cream.
Later, unprompted, my younger daughter revisited our earlier conversation and turned to me and said: “Mom, I really am grateful for a lot of things, things like you and Dad, and even my sister.”
Now that’s a list that doesn’t need any more emphasis.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.