On the advice of Oprah, whose magazine I read, I became more aware of being grateful some years ago. Before then my nightly reflections — what I call prayers — were requests, not thanks. Life got really tough at one point and I decided to give gratitude a try. I could barely shut up. I had so many things to be grateful for my attitude did change. On my worst days I could list 20 things I was grateful for without effort.
With Thanksgiving approaching, I would like to make a public declaration of some of the many things for which I am grateful.
I am so thankful for my sister. We don’t always see eye-to-eye (she’s my sister!), but I would be lost without her. She is the only living person who remembers the day I was born, and memories of her are some of the first and best of my life.
My great-niece Chelsea, a pure being and old soul, who is one of life’s greatest gifts.
My friends. I have been blessed with friends who are kind, quirky, funny, long-suffering, brilliant, loyal, generous. I could go on and on. There was a time in my life when I didn’t have a friend close by, and it was the worst time of my life.
Sadie, my dog. Need I say more? And Madeleine, my needy cat. She is an in-your-face cat, but I doubt there is a sweeter animal alive.
I suppose I should have put God and life first and second because without them none of the rest would be possible, but this is a list not a ranking. There have been times when I doubted, when I just wanted life to be over, but not now and not for a long time.
I am thankful I was born in a time of such promise, hope and accomplishment. Our generation believed we could change the world, and we did as each generation does, but we rocked the planet.
Music. I don’t know what my life would have been like without music, beginning with the crooners, moving on to Elvis, the Everly Brothers and The Beatles, then to folks like Jesse Winchester and Jackson Browne. I am grateful for the nights at Down Home listening to incredible music.
Books. My quality of life would have been halved without books. After I got “chemo brain” years ago, I read much less. The Book Club, for which I am grateful on many levels, encouraged me to dive into reading again. Books are my lifeline.
The transformative experience of live theater. No other art form has touched me as deeply.
Teachers, doctors, nurses, med techs, volunteers. I am grateful to all who give their time to help others.
I cannot believe my good luck in having been born in America. I have not always loved it, thought of leaving it, but I am grateful to live here.
I’m running out of room and I haven’t mentioned nature, warm socks, baggy pants, cotton sheets, yarn, art, movies, travel, gardening, chocolate for gosh sakes, and writing.
God willing, this Thanksgiving Day will find me with people I love and food I enjoy. For this and all the above, I will be thankful while knowing this list reflects a fraction of my good fortune.
Jan Hearne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.