"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Makes You Grateful This Thanksgiving?

By Micky Wolf
The holiday season can bring out the best (and worst) in people. Maybe it’s hard to sit with Uncle Talksalot for a couple of hours. Or listen to little sister Pollytics rant on about her favorite candidate.

What if the loving option is to make the choice to forget self—my wants, my needs, what makes me happy—and choose the higher ground? To be other-centered? To believe that, for at least a couple of special times of the year, there is something more important, more honorable and virtuous, than planting ourselves in a corner “just waiting for it to be over”.

So, how do we maximize the first and minimize the latter?


Take the time to discover—within your own heart as well as with others—the good stuff.

Which brings me to the fresh stick of butter. And what’s a festive holiday dinner without lots of butter, inside the yummies or slathered on top?

My extended family has always been small. However, one of my two uncles (both long since departed) had a way of making folks smile every time we gathered around a dinner table.

He was quiet by nature (still waters run deep) and tended to be a bit cranky and stern at times. Somehow I managed to be seated next to him on most occasions. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Why?

You see he had this tradition. He’d start the butter dish around the table without removing any until it returned to his place. (That was intentional.) I was the first recipient. With the tiniest smile beginning to form, he’d hand it to me—but not before he’d nudged it hard enough that my thumb became stuck in the end of the stick.

And he got me every time. Every. Time.

As a kid, it might make sense I’d forget. But as a young adult? Nope. It would all happen so fast, all I could do was laugh and shake my head—as did everyone else around the table. 

Then I’d take my knife and slide some onto my plate and hand it to the next person—who by now was wise enough to have a strategy to avoid being butter-kissed. Darn it.

In the end, the best part of the butter tradition was how it affected the atmosphere. That single act was enough to bring joy to our table, brighten someone’s mood. That simple gesture could silence (at least for a couple of minutes) Uncle Talksalot. Get sister Pollytics on another topic.

It doesn’t take much for most of us to realize we have a lot for which to be thankful.

On the other hand, taking the time to express our gratitude in a way that makes everyone feel appreciated and welcome may be the best gift we can give one another, and ourselves.

Thank you, dear uncle. And something tells me you’re still at it.

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