True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. — Seneca
I love the Thanksgiving holiday. People really do seem to sit back and take stock of their blessings. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did that every day of the year? It is perfect irony that the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. Thursday we count our blessings and tell each other how satisfied we are with our lives, then on Friday we go out on a mass expedition to spend money we don’t have on things that don’t matter. Have you ever thought about that? Bizarre!
I’m very blessed. I have a husband who adores me—though I’ve never been able to figure out why. My children and their spouses are good people who have given me precious grandchildren. Recently, I became a great-granny for the first time. I write my articles ahead of their publication date, so today is actually August 26th. I am expecting a new granddaughter just about the time this article will be published. Who knows? Maybe we will even have a Thanksgiving baby! As you read this, it’s possible I’m sitting in a hospital room holding her for the first time. Life is truly good.
There are a lot of “have nots,” but that’s okay. I’d love to travel, but I can travel through the eyes of my sister and good friends. I don’t own a lot of fancy technology, but I do just fine. I wash dishes by hand, and there are gouges in the linoleum floor in the kitchen. There are some minor repairs that need to be made at home, but they will have to wait until a better time financially. None of those things are important, and I am content with life as it is.
As we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I hope we can all keep that feeling of gratitude in our hearts. Maybe we can focus on the gratitude we have for Jesus Christ. Hopefully, we will be thinking about our families and showing our gratitude for them.
I’m not the Grinch, and I don’t want to steal anyone’s Christmas buying fun here. I will also be making purchases for my loved ones. However, they will be modest purchases. There will be some handmade gifts that I made last January and have stored all year. These items were made with love. I know not everyone has the time, nor the inclination to make handmade gifts. This is something that I personally really enjoy. It is much more pleasurable for me to give a gift that I’ve made with my own hands as an expression of my love.
I also love receiving gifts of love. A couple of years ago, some family members taught their children a couple of hymns to sing to my husband and me for Christmas. That was a lovely gift. It was gift from the heart.
Thanksgiving and Christmas should both stir our hearts to remembrance for the important things—none of which can be found in a department store at the mall. I hope as we remember our blessings that we thank our Heavenly Father for them. Sometimes our prayers end up being a long list of problems we need solved or “have nots” that we want fulfilled. Just as we want to be appreciated for the time we spend fulfilling the sugar plum dreams of our children, our Heavenly Father wants to be appreciated for the blessings he showers upon us.
You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
I opened this article with a Seneca quote. Remember he said, “The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.” Thinking about the greatest blessings being within us, maybe that means that the greatest blessings are when we serve others. Since most of us can’t go to a third world country to give service, we can serve those who are within our reach. We need not even stray far from our own family circle.
Serving others is truly a great blessing. Think about the last Christmas purchase you made, and then think about the last act of service you gave. Which was the greater blessing? The greatest blessings in our own lives are usually those blessings we are helping God bestow on others.
Be content with your lot. Count your blessings. Show gratitude to your Heavenly Father for all that you have. Help God bestow blessings on those within your reach. Let both Thanksgiving and Christmas be a time of gratitude. Maybe it will become such a habit after a month that we will all have gratitude in our hearts all year.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.