It seems the word "gratitude" is everywhere at this time of year. Its various appearances via blog posts, magazine articles, and talk show repartee, all serve up a heaping scoop of this intangible thing we refer to as "gratitude." What is it really? and why is it an ephemeral idea juiced up with the turkey brine? Must we, as a society, need reminders to be grateful? I suppose, like all things, what we focus on we get, and what we give, we have returned to us.
The American Heritage Dictionary describes "grateful" as, "(1) Appreciative of benefits received; thankful. (2) Expressing gratitude." It then describes "gratitude" as, "The state of being grateful; thankfulness." This provides us a somewhat descriptive albeit circular answer. Lacking black and white confirmation to guide us in this quest, the answer is left to each individual to ponder, search, and discover what it means. It is up to each of us to then take it and pass it on, creating a ripple effect in one's corner of the world.
To me the key words are "appreciative" and "expressing." If you have gratitude, you know it, and can share it. It can come in small ways, large gestures, or an anonymous outreach. One can never say thank you enough for any and all warranted occasions. It can motivate, uplift, and help oneself as well as another.
So what is the common denominator? People. It's not the car you drive, the house you live in, the clothes you wear. These comforts are all enjoyable in life but when you strip them away, what remains are the people in your life. The people who are no longer among us, but touch your thoughts each day; those who are far away yet close at heart; the friend who you call after many years and welcomes you with a smile in her voice; even those with whom a singular interaction can change an outcome for the better. It's the ones who share your morning coffee, accompany you to the doctor, join you for an adventure without hesitation, give you clarity when you can't make sense of a situation, finish your sentence when the word escapes your mind, and are simply just there when you need them.
For me, it is all of these people and of course, the Here We Are readers and listeners. For all of you, I am grateful, thank you. Please share with me what gratitude means to you. If you'd like to share it quietly, send this to someone and let them know what they mean to you.