Whenever I stop to notice a sunset or nestle a new baby on my shoulder or feel my heart fill up to overflowing with gratitude for little things like how someone said “thank you” at dinner, I think of growing up with my parents and how their gratitude seeped into me.
They love thanks-giving so much that they have always sent out “Thanksgiving Cards” rather than Christmas cards. In each one, for forty-four years, my dad has written a poem.
I wanted to share part of this year’s poem because I love it:
Family, Friends, we ask you,
Are they skills or gifts?
Do we earn them, develop them, master them over time
Through our own deliberate effort?
Or are they gifts from their Divine Author, to whom we ask,
and from whom we hope to receive?
We lean toward the latter,
But we think there are complementing, precipitating, access-providing skills
Which we can develop for each:
Calmness and perspective which prepare us for the gift of peace.
Awareness and serendipity that open us to the gift of joy.
Kindness and empathy that help us access the gift of love.
And there is one skill, one developed quality, one deliberate practice
That helps hugely with all three.
It is gratitude. It is Thanks-Giving.
In our family, Thanksgiving has always been the “key” holiday. So many of our traditions have centered on Thanksgiving, and we always felt it was the perfect lead-in to Christmas and the perfect harbinger of the holidays. After all, what could be a better precursor to Christmas and to celebrating the birth of Christ than all kinds of gratitude and Thanks-Giving!
Early in our marriage, we decided that rather than get into the Christmas Card frenzy, we would jump the gun a bit and send out a Thanksgiving Card each year. We have done that now for 44 years, and the cards actually tell the story of our family. The pictures that went with the cards each year show the growing up of each child, and the poems we wrote to go with the photos trace the pattern of what had happened each year and where our gratitude was centered.
Finally, as Thanksgiving continued to mean more and more to us, we decided to write a book about gratitude, and about the connections of Thanks-Giving to Joy, to Peace, and to family security and unity. Since much of what we wanted to say was about feelings, we felt the book needed to be as much about pictures as about poetry and prose. Luckily, we have some great photographers in the family, and we were able to use their work to illustrate the book.
As it was finished this fall THE THANKFUL HEART has become not only a how-to book on the ways to enhance and magnify gratitude, but a kind of short hand history of the Eyre family (Eyrealm as we call it).
The subtitle of the book is a good summary: “How Deliberate Gratitude can Change Every Texture of Our Lives.”
And the back cover quote is the essence: “Gratitude does not lead to happiness; gratitude is happiness in its most obtainable form.”
Amen, Dad! I’m so glad to have this book sitting on my coffee table so that I can scan through it when I get hungry for the thickness of the air surrounding Thanksgiving back home. I love to have the thoughts my parents share knit my heart even tighter around all that I am grateful for. It’s also good for a good laugh because those old family pictures….
My sisters did give-aways on their blogs too and asked for the comments to include a favorite Thanksgiving tradition. I would love
Just leave a comment about what you are thankful for this holiday season for a chance to win. Update: My sisters did give-aways on their blogs too and asked for favorite Thanksgiving traditions in the entry comments and I loved it so let’s add that option. 🙂 I would love to hear any traditions I can as we are preparing for Thanksgiving here and I’m sure other readers would love to hear some new ideas too!
I will announce the winner on Wednesday so that we can get the books sent off in time for the big day.
If you don’t want to wait and want to just get yourself (or your mom or brother or cousin’s friend’s sister) a copy, (great Thanksgiving gift) click HERE .
With love and lots of gratitude,