Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finding Gratitude


Sometimes we have a difficult time finding gratitude. There is often much to gripe about.

The recent elections left some people filled with gratitude and others were distressed at the outcome. There was a lot of gloating by some (too much by too many) and a great deal of gloom by some (too much by too many) and the nation reflected that. In reality, if people look closely, there is probably room for everyone to be happy about some things and distressed about other things. Unless we vote for every winner, no one gets everything he or she wants.

This is true of life. No one gets everything they want. Health can be better for many; jobs can be better; family life can be better; the weather can be better. The list goes on and on. No one’s life is perfect.

Something dawned on me a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find anything I wanted to watch on television and I muttered to myself, “There’s nothing on.”

I have DirectTV and I love it. I have hundreds of channels. I can pretty much watch anything on any topic I want. This includes the free period of a large number of premium channels. I also have a wealth of On Demand shows that I can watch. I even have a queue of shows I have recorded, waiting to be seen. And I sat there and said, “There’s nothing on.”

When I was growing up I was in New Jersey and we had a lot more channels than most of the nation. We had 2,4, and 7, the major networks. There were also 5, 9, and 11, which were local New York stations, and PBS on 13. In the 1960’ have seven stations was unheard of in most of the country. We’d complain there was ‘nothing on’ then, and, at least the lineup was a lot smaller.

But now, who the heck am I to complain about there being ‘nothing on.’ Talk about nonsense!

We whine a lot as a society. We truly do. If things are not perfect, we whine. If things don’t go the way we want them to go, we whine. It’s not because we are bad people and it’s not because of the sinfulness of people, it’s more in the fact that we are spoiled. Life is actually easier and better than it used to be. People often talk about how amazing doctors were in the 1950’s and 1960’s and often how above reproach they were. In reality, physicians are so much better now and can do so much more. Look at the life expectancy of people!

Yet, we are often so ungrateful. Again, if it’s not perfect….

At Thanksgiving I often think of the Pilgrims. Perhaps that sounds corny, but I do think of them. The first ‘feast’ was not what we will be eating on Thursday. If they had turkey, it was a small, tough bird. There was probably other wild game. There was probably venison and clams and lobsters. Alas, there was also no butter…

There was probably something that could best be described as an ‘innards pie.’ This would have been a pie with cooked organs of animals. In those days nothing on the animal ever went to waste. And before you say you wouldn’t have eaten the ‘innards pie,’ people did not pass the mashed potatoes in those days. The ‘passing’ of food around the table was a custom that came into effect much later. The ‘best’ food was placed near the most important people. If you had no status, were a child, or a woman, you were eating the innards.

There was something else missing from the meal. They had no sugar. If they ate pumpkins or cranberries, there was no sugar to make dessert. They would have used honey or dried fruit to sweeten things. Sugar didn’t come to much later.

Yet, they were filled with gratitude for what little they had. When you have very little to share, there is always much to go around; and a great deal of gratitude for what little there is.

Enjoy Thanksgiving this year----and don’t complain. Delight in what we really have and be grateful for the abundance we do have.

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