it’s not Thanksgiving any more

My youngest son called when I was out yesterday. If you’re a longtime Intramuralist reader, you’ll know we are often taught much through the simple; we are often taught much through the simple, wise words of this astute young man. Downs is not a definer for him; it simply is one of the lenses through which he sees the world.

He was checking on a few items when he called. When finished, as is typical of our multiple, daily conversations, I told him I loved him. I then added:

“I’m thankful for you.”

He chuckled on the other end of the phone. Something in him found this funny. “Mom, it’s not Thanksgiving any more.”

“I know. I’m still thankful for you.”

Josh often mirrors manifestations of the mature in a more uncomplicated form. I love it! … no doubt intellect is clearly often an adult obstacle. In so many moments and opportunities to glean wisdom, we seem to have trouble wrapping our brains around the potential learning because we aren’t certain… we can’t figure it out… or it doesn’t make sense to “we”

In other words, “we” get in the way. 

Thankfulness — gratitude — is a fantastic example of such.

Long ago I was impressed with the wisdom that thanksgiving is a practice; it’s not simply a singular holiday in which the turkey is carved, carbs are flowing, and everyone dives into a celebratory piece of pumpkin pie. (And sorry — but acknowledging my clear, polarizing bias — if pumpkin pie was so good, why aren’t we eating it throughout the rest of the year??) 🙂

As averred earlier last week, “whatever we pay attention to grows.” Gratitude is clearly a virtue, value and practice that the more we pay attention to it, the more frequently it swells up in us — the more we do it, think it, and engage in it.

And the reason that’s key is because gratitude is directed at someone other than self. 

We thank another person…

We thank our country…

We thank our Creator…

That intentional stepping outside of ourselves and the subsequent giving of thanks, keeps us more humble. It also assists us from becoming so self-absorbed and therefore futile in our own thinking.

The reason I thus love Josh’s response is because I find him wrestling with these virtues, values, and practices right in front of me; more often than me — definitely faster than me — he takes advantage of the daily opportunities in front of him to glean wisdom. He doesn’t need to read the lengthier (and wise) words of M. J. Ryan in Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life (1999):

“When you are grateful, it is impossible to also be hateful, angry, or fearful.”

Read that again, friends… what a beautiful, selfless thing… 

“When you are grateful, it is impossible to also be hateful, angry, or fearful.”

So as Josh reminded me…

“Mom, it’s not Thanksgiving any more.”

“I know. I’m still thankful for you.”

To which — taking advantage of the opportunity — he responded with a renewed, obvious glee in his voice…

“I’m thankful for you, too.”