Several years ago, the New York Times published a rather creative vocabulary quiz — 25 questions, multiple choice, all about word usage and pronunciation.
Among the questions:
“How do you pronounce the second syllable of pajamas?”
“Do you pronounce cot and caught the same?”
“What do you call the rubber-soled shoes worn in gym class or for athletic activities?”
Based on one’s answers to those 25 Q’s, the quiz projects the probability of where one is from, as different words and dialects are used in different parts of the country.
While certainly not indicative of any one geographical location, when we moved from Cincinnati to Orlando 3½ years ago, there was one word and phrase I found for some reason, far more used in the South…
I am grateful for you.
I found myself soon doing life with a group of wise people who consistently take time out to utter those exact words.
As we contemplate Thanksgiving this week — a day in which our country expresses gratitude for divine provision and protection — my simple desire is to focus on what being grateful actually entails.
To be grateful means we are thankful. We are aware of our blessing and appreciate what another has done. It’s an affirmation of goodness.
In fact, one of the most beautiful, profound aspects of this virtue is when we are grateful, we can’t be something else… as it’s really hard to be grateful and bitter or bad-tempered or insolent or insulting or hostile or hateful or stingy or selfish or divisive or denigrating at the same time.
But the key with gratitude is that it’s only realized if it’s expressed.
As the influential Andy Stanley poignantly shares, “Unexpressed gratitude is experienced as ingratitude.”
The person on the receiving end of us can’t see our gratitude unless we say it, friends.
In other words, if we don’t convey our gratitude, if we don’t actually speak it — or if for some reason we even intentionally withhold it, believing another is undeserving, unworthy or un-something — we are communicating ingratitude instead.
And ingratitude is hurtful, unattractive, and has never been confused with being any sort of virtue.
So as we pause during the pandemic for this special, national holiday — noting our feasts and family gatherings have been altered in this thing we keep calling “2020” — the reality is that not even 2020 has the ability to extinguish our gratitude. Gratitude is always an option. Hence…
Who are you grateful for?
Who have you yet to tell?
To whom do you owe a verbal affirmation?
This Thanksgiving, I pray we are each more humbly self aware. Let’s turn up gratitude. Let’s be ridiculously grateful…
… no matter where we are from… no matter the different words and dialects used…
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I am grateful for you!
(P.S. The second syllable of pajamas rhymes with “jam,” cot and caught are not pronounced the same, and my rubber-soled shoes that I joyfully wear daily are indeed called “tennis shoes.” 🙂 )