My husband and I are enjoying a quiet day of gratitude at home this Thanksgiving. As our family has grown and children have grown up, gotten jobs, married, and babies have been born the demands of work and extended families have made it difficult to find a time when everyone can come together at the holidays. Rather than adding to the stress of the holidays our family has simply shifted our celebrations to a day not as busy. That seems to work well for us as we don’t have people trying to make the rounds to several different Thanksgiving gatherings all on the same day…or alternately disappointing one part of the family or another or feeling bad that they can’t attend all of the gatherings.
Though we’re not having the traditional turkey and trimmings today we will be having a nice meal. I have a nice pork roast brining and a pan of yeast rolls rising in the oven as I type this. We’ll have the traditional turkey and trimmings when we gather with family next weekend.
We all experience and express gratitude in different ways. Some of us pray and thank God for our blessings. Some of us share what we’re thankful for with others. Some of us post a daily list of what we’re grateful for on Facebook. Some of us write in gratitude journals. I believe that all of these are wonderful ways to express gratitude…and I use many of them myself.
One of my favorite ways to express gratitude is to pass on some of the talents and blessings that I have, simply because I can. As I’m sure some of you who have read this blog for a while can tell, one of my favorite ways to pass on some of the talents and blessings I have is through the making and donating of quilts, blankets, hats, scarves, and other items which I give away to those in need. I blog about this to encourage others to do the same.
I look upon this making and giving as a way of putting something good back into the world. I find doing this blesses me, probably as much as it blesses the person who receives the gifts. This is especially true whenever the energy around me is chaotic and ugly as it was post 911 and is now to a lesser degree post election.
Whenever the energy around me is fractious and unsettled making things and giving them allows me to calm my energy…to center myself…and to share the fruits of my labor with someone who needs the tangible quilt, blanket or hat. Being able to give something that is needed soothes my ragged edges…partly because I believe that positive offerings continue to radiate way beyond the person who receives the gift.
I am incredibly thankful this Thanksgiving season (and every Thanksgiving) for my husband, my parents, my sister, my nieces, my nephews, my great nieces and great nephews and all of the extended family that I have through the wonderful spouses and significant others of family members. I feel both blessed and humbled to be a member of such a loving family.
What I’d like to talk about in this blog post though is the gratitude I feel for a couple of people who have been in my thoughts a lot lately.
The first is my maternal grandmother Lula Luttrell who left the earthly plane many years ago when my nieces and nephews were still small. The older I get the more I appreciate my grandmother and the time she spent teaching me to sew, quilt, and embroider. As I get older I realize that the time she spent helping me took time away from her own pursuits. I’m sure that there were times when I wanted to sew that she would have preferred working quietly on her own projects rather than helping me sort out the intricacies of how a pattern went together…or why the machine was skipping stitches…or how to change the bobbin or the needle. Yet, Grandma never complained. She just patiently helped me with whatever I needed help with.
I doubt she realized at the time how far the ripples of her kindness would radiate or how many people would receive quilts that would not have been possible without the time, focus, and attention she gave me.
Another person that has been in my thoughts a lot lately is a lady whose name I never knew but who none-the-less has had a big impact on my life as an example of kindness and giving. Years ago (40+) when my sister and I were children our family didn’t have a lot of money and we didn’t have medical insurance so we received our medical care at the Des Moines Health Center where you could go and be seen on a sliding scale dependent on your income.
Though we received good care there the wait was often several hours long, and as children it was generally BORING.
On what my sister and I thought of as “the good days” there was an older lady–probably about the age I am now–who came to the health center bearing paper and crayons. She’d invite the children gathered in the waiting room to sit at some big tables they had there and color pictures. Though it might not seem like a lot now, that was a HUGE thing then. I can remember how much my sister and I always hoped that lady would be there when we had to go for appointments because her presence made the wait so much more fun. I’ve often thought of the lady at the health center as I’ve gone about my own bits of charitable giving. Her gifts didn’t cost millions of dollars…they didn’t require massive planes to ship them to far flung corners of the world. She simply brought paper and crayons and a bit of her time to a health center where children were bored and she encouraged them to be creative.
I never knew her name, but without a doubt her kindness had an impact on me and is still creating ripples that radiate outward from me.
The thing about being kind and showing love is that you never know how far the ripples of a kind act will radiate. The ripples of the time my grandmother spent with me are still radiating outward into the world in the form of quilts, blankets, and hats that are still being donated to people who need them. The kindness of a lady whose name I never known is still radiating in the world because to large extent the gifts I make and donate are made in her honor.
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