Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  A few years ago, I heard about a  practice that sounded like a wonderful idea: to think about what you’re grateful for as soon as you get out of bed every single day, the minute your feet hit the floor. Ever since the idea was planted, I’ve meant to make gratitude part of my morning routine, but so far, it just hasn’t happened.  It’s usually only when I’m feeling low that I think about pulling gratitude out of my bag of tricks, as I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to feel lousy and grateful at once.  Gratitude trumps the bad stuff 99% of the time.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, give it a try.

In this particular moment, I am feeling great/ful for this holiday that reminds me to practice gratitude every day.  Having drifted over the years from organized religion, giving thanks is about as close to prayer as I get.  Outside of meditation, it is the most direct path I’ve found for relating to the universal “oneness” that unites and connects everyone and everything.

So here is my prayer:  Let me give thanks.

I’m thankful that a year before I moved here, I learned that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October.  That’s the kind of information that’s good to know when you’re an immigrant… it can save you from embarrassing moments, like not knowing what timbits or toques are.I’m thankful for grey and almost-rainy Saturday mornings in Vancouver.  I’m thankful for Quickstart muffins and rich and creamy lattes served in huge bowls at Bean Around the World.

I’m thankful for the warmth and brightness of my small home.

I’m thankful for my downstairs neighbour Barry and for his Sunday night dinners of roasted chicken and Yorkshire pudding and football.

I’m thankful for all of my friends and family in the States who have made the effort to get their passports and come visit me in this not-so-far-away foreign land.  I’m thankful for those who are gearing up to make the trip.  And I’m thankful for living in such a beautiful part of the world that makes for a nice vacation spot.I’m thankful to every person, even strangers, who have lent me their shoulders to cry on over the past season.  I’m thankful to Madeleine for giving me not one, but two, beautiful organic cotton handkerchiefs to daintily blow my nose into.

I’m thankful for my education, both the formal and informal.

I’m thankful to the trees on my street whose leaves are changing into brilliant colours as part of their autumn ritual.I am thankful for rituals.

I’m thankful for golden retrievers and for cats named Kitty.  I’m thankful for rollerball pens.  I’m thankful for Barbra Streisand’s voice and Anne Lamott’s words.  I’m thankful for Ellis Marsalis and his whole insanely talented family.

I’m thankful for my family here in this city, where I have no blood relatives.I’m thankful for free parking and for finding change on the street.

I’m thankful for unemployment insurance.

I’m thankful for all of the spots at Jericho Beach where I can stand and see mountains, islands, ocean and the full cityscape all at once, simply by turning my head.I’m thankful for the smell of cedar wood.

I’m thankful for every single one of the dinners and lunches and coffees that my friends and colleagues have bought or made for me during these “Days of the Skinny Wallet.”  I am continuously astounded and humbled by the generosity of my community.

I’m thankful for community art.I’m thankful that my parents are alive and healthy and that our hearts are close, even though we live in different cities.

I’m thankful for my healthy body and how good it has been to me, even though I haven’t always returned the favour.

I’m thankful to my brother and sister-in-law for doing such an amazing job raising my two precious and beautiful nieces.I’m thankful for the gifts of deep love I’ve received.  And I’m thankful for my heart that is able to love in return.

Giving, receiving, giving, receiving… gratitude moves in a virtuous cycle.

Most of all, I’m thankful that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving again next month.

May we all be awash in gratitude, every day.

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10 thoughts on “Giving Thanks

  1. Wow, that was beautiful. Now that I’ve taken the time to read some of your blog, I can see why you are so proud of it and the expression you find through it, your words and images. Love you, David

  2. I am so grateful to be (and have been) your friend through so many years. May we continue to practice gratitude–daily. One of my favorite quotes is: “How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life.” (Anne Lamott).
    xoxo Love you!

  3. Yes, we have much to be thankful for and often overlook the good in life. I’m glad three year old Max understands the concept. When asked what he is thankful for, he immediately responded that he is thankful that bro (Mason) gave him a computer game (handed down). I was thankful to share Thanksgiving with Marla’s new family. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving across the miles…love, Fran

  4. Thank •you• Hilary! What a fabulous way to start my day! Your thanks for the little things as well as the big reinforce yet again that yours is a wonderful and appreciative spirit. I feel lucky to have connected this year. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful post Hilary, thank you for sharing! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – I can always feel the gratitude as a tangible feeling in the air. Your post is a great reminder to feel this way every day!

  6. Wow, that was an amazingly beautiful poem of gratitude that makes everyone else, including me, think about the things in life we are most fortunate to have. That includes XX years of our passing salutations. I hope you have a fantastic holiday and new year. Gary

  7. Dear Cousin Hilary,
    Thanks for the beautiful words of gratitude. In October we stood on the Straits of Juan De Fuca after taking in the wonders of the Olympic Peninsula and looked longingly across from Port Angeles toward Vancouver. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to visit and be back in Olympia WA for a teaching. We hear it’s a gorgeous city and would love to visit some day soon.
    You probably already know that the first prayer a Jew says when opening her eyes every morning is “Modeh Ani Lifanecha Melech Chay V’Kayam Shehechezarta bee nishmati b’chemla rabba emunatecha” Which translates I thank you everliving God for restoring my soul in your kindness and faithfulness. Then we hope to use our soul powers well throughout the day.
    Lots of Love and especially thanks for the pictures = 1000 words, Rachel

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