Gratitude is expressing appreciation to someone for words and actions and stems from true humility. The very sacrament of Eucharist means "giving thanks." We can be grateful to our parents for raising and caring for us. We can be grateful to our children for making us grow in selflessness and all the gifts of joy they have brought us. Most importantly, we must be grateful to God from whom all good things come. God has given us everything and everything good we have comes from God. How important, then, is it to give Him thanks?
Personally, I have much to be thankful for. I encourage you to make a list of your own things in life that you're grateful for. I'm grateful for my faith and the Sacraments, family, health, life, home, education, hobbies and talents. I could go on! I have so much to be thankful for. For me it is especially important to give God thanks constantly because I can easily point out what I do not have that I wish I did. For example, I would love to have a house like my parents have for my son to live in and run around instead of a one bedroom apartment. Aready God is showing me His love and providence. I was not going to buy any presents for my son this year for Christmas. Make him a couple things, and I had one leftover from last year. Last week, though, my husband received a Babies R Us gift card which will now be used to buy at least one nice gift for my son. That one small act has given me such joy that my son I'm sure will not even understand. I am grateful to the person who gave my husband the giftcard and to God for constantly shaming me in my despair.
With Black Friday ever encroaching on Thanksgiving, it can be hard to remember that the importance of gratitude is not in wishing for more but rather being content where we are. Even though I would like a house, I am very happy with our sizable apartment. I really am. So as the shopping season comes into full swing, you can maintain humility in a number of ways. Do not be attached to certain gifts. If you can only afford a certain amount, do not spend more than that. Your children will have a great Christmas as long as the gifts are thoughtful whether or not the number beneath the tree are large or small. A great way to show gratitude at Christmastime to those you love is handmade gifts. Those are certainly going to dominate my gift giving this year. Handmade gifts are growing in popularity. As popular as they are, they still feel countercultural. With enough thought and effort, handmade gifts can express great love to the important people in your life for less money than anything bought could have. Another way is prayer. Advent is a time of prayerful preperation and anticipation of the coming of Christ. As long as we pray every day and attend mass on Sundays, ingratitude will hopefully be far from our hearts.
There are times when it seems we have nothing to be thankful for, even this time of year. Maybe you're out of a job, you've lost a close family member, or anything else that makes this time of year especially difficult. It is important to feel sorrow if there is a reason to. In those times of sorrow, however, we must not dwell in despair but rather turn to God and Our Lady for comfort. We must offer up to Christ on the cross our own crosses and pains. We can pray to receive what we need. Even in times of sorrow, though, we still have things we can thank God for. Each day, whether easy or challenging, is a day to be thankful for. We can even be thankful for the sorrowful times because they give us an opportunity to grow closer to God. Whatever is going on in your life, it is imporant to take a step back to see what you can be grateful for.
Gratitude is a virtue. Like all virtues, it must be consciously cultivated and prayed about. Through humility and love we can give God thanksgiving all days of our life most especially on Thanksgiving and during Advent.