Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your holiday be filled with blessings and the spirit of acceptance to receive them. Blessings abound but often go unrecognized as we worry and struggle our way through life. When we accept our life as a blessing – all of it - we see that we have “everything” for which to be grateful.
I found a cover article I thought you might enjoy from the Thanksgiving edition of the American Way Magazine dated November 15, 2008. It features celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou looking back on 80 years of blessings and is called “Giving Thanks”.
“After eight decades of triumphs and tragedies, Angelou has learned that happiness is not found in counting how much you have, be it books or accolades or wealth or friends, but by appreciating however much — or little — you’ve been given.
“I’m grateful,” she says, sipping a glass of Martinelli’s Apple Juice. “I am truly grateful. I’m grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, for being able to taste, for appreciating love — for knowing that it exists in a world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists. I’m grateful to know that it exists. And I’m grateful to know it exists in me, and I’m able to share it with so many people.”
Her gratitude was fostered by her grandmother. Her grandmother taught her not to complain…”She’d say, ‘There are people all over the world, black and white, rich and poor, who went to sleep when that person went to sleep, and they have never awakened. … They would give anything for five minutes of what that person was complaining about,’ “ Angelou recalls. “She said that to me so much.” Her
grandmother’s message has stuck with her to this day.
One day when she showed up on her vocal coach’s doorstep angry and overwhelmed, he simply handed her a pad of paper and a pen. He instructed her to write down all the blessings in her life. Though she resisted at first, she realized after finishing the page of notes that she had much more to be thankful for than she’d originally acknowledged.
“In the midst of hard times, you have to say, ‘I know this will not last forever.’ No matter how bad it gets, I’m always grateful to know that I don’t have to stay with the negative. I don’t have to continue in this climate of cynicism. I may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know there is one,” Angelou says.
She reaches for her glass of apple juice again, the lines on her hands deep with experience, and she grows reflective. As she’s looked back on her past this afternoon, she can’t help but also think of the future, and to Thanksgivings when her grandchildren and their children will be enjoying their own traditions.
”I hope I’ll be remembered as kind and generous and funny and loving and brave.”