I like this definition: “Gratitude is an affirmation of the goodness in one’s life and the recognition that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” It emerges from two-stages of information processing: affirming and recognizing. Gratitude is the recognition that life owes me nothing and all the good I have is a gift. It is a response to all that has been given. So it is foundationally and fundamentally a way of looking at life.
But sometimes, being grateful (and showing it) is hard. Lately it seems that everything we try to do is met with obstacles. Loss of livestock, equipment failures, countless repairs, not enough inventory....the list is endless....and daunting....and discouraging. Trying to find the silver lining, look at the bright side and all those cliches is just downright difficult when it feels as if the deck is stacked against you.
Gratitude is on the forefront of my mind this week, largely because Thanksgiving is just a few days away. As I look back on the past 18 months and consider all the difficulties and the losses that so many have faced, I really have to check myself. I need to be reminded that it could most certainly be worse. We have our health. We have food and a roof over our heads. We have heat this winter. We have air conditioning in the summer. We have each other.
So what is the difference between Gratitude and Thanksgiving?
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” — Melody Beattie
Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to the focus of being thankful. This time of year can give us that warm, fuzzy feeling when we spend time feeling thankful for the things our lives include. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word thankful as “pleased and relieved.” Both of those are great feelings. Everyone wants to be pleased and relieved. But that’s just it; they’re just feelings, and feelings fade.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word grateful as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” This is where the difference lies; being thankful is a feeling, and being grateful is an action. Don't just be thankful for the role that others play in our lives....but SHOW them.
In what ways can each of us cultivate, grow, and express gratefulness to those around us that love and support us in various ways each and every day?
So now that I have your brains working and thinking....I'll introduce you to Raisin. Raisin came to us as a day old chick to the US Post Office back in February. She was in a shipment of 49 other chicks purchased for the sole goal of restarting our pasture raised poultry sales after about a two year or so break. When these chicks arrive, they all look and sound the same....yellow, fluffy, loud balls of cuteness. As these chicks began to grow, it quickly became evident that we were playing a game of "Which of these things does not belong"? She did not look or sound like the others and she had a definite disadvantage in her physical makeup compared to the others. A chicken anomaly, if you will. You see, not only was Raisin a completely different color from the rest of the chickens (who were solid white), but she also has abnormally short legs for a chicken. She cannot fly and she cannot run very fast or jump.
Rick and I didn't much contemplate the difference, but our dear 13-year-old with a huge heart most certainly did, and she loudly proclaimed that she would be called Raisin and she was not to be processed with the rest of the birds. So fast forward to November and the end of our pasture raised poultry for the season. Raisin was raised in the mobile chicken tractors with the meat birds all this time, which means now...she was completely alone. So we made the decision to move her in with our egg flock who free range at our house. This meant some modifications were needed...a ramp for her to get in and out of the coop each day and her own little roost so that she doesn't have far to get down from each morning. So here where I express my extreme gratefulness for my husband who can build, construct, repair, and plan just about anything.
Raisin hasn't quite figured out how to navigate going UP the ramp so, each night, we find her and put her inside the coop on her little roost.
Yes...we showed a chicken grace. She will live out her days here on the farm, happily pecking for goodies that she finds or that we throw out to her and the other birds. But I am grateful for this little bird because she reminds me to not sweat the small stuff because...in the end....it's all small stuff.
Have A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving