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Warmest Regards: An attitude of gratitude

I do love thanksgiving because that particular holiday asks nothing of us except a grateful heart.

Oh, and if you’re cooking a full traditional Thanksgiving meal, you’ll need a lot of stamina because it takes one whale of an effort to do it all yourself.

That’s probably why many of my friends have made restaurant reservations.

I tried that one year with my family and it was great to have a turkey meal that didn’t require any work on my part.

But I missed one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving - leftovers. In our family we all love a turkey sandwich with leftover stuffing and cranberry sauce.

I always invite my neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner but this year they will be having the holiday meal with their family. So it will be just me and my husband.

I briefly considered cutting back on what I cook but tradition is too ingrained in me.

But what I love best about Thanksgiving isn’t the meal. To me, thanksgiving is not just a day. It’s a way of life where we are keenly aware of every single blessing, every single day.

In other words, it’s an attitude of gratitude.

Each year of my life I think l am as thankful as one could possible be.

Yet, the following year my sense of gratitude is even deeper and my thankfulness grows stronger each year.

I start each day with what I call my gratitude walk, saying thank you for each blessing. The list keeps growing longer.

But to be truthful with you, I thought it might be hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude after Hurricane Ian destroyed my home, most of what I own, and most of the street on which I live.

Usually when disaster strikes and it’s over we all scramble to get on with our lives.

But here, in my community, there has yet to be the consolation of thinking it’s over. Because more than a year later, it’s not.

Insurance companies not willing to pay claims are adding to the misery for those still waiting for money to restore their homes.

Aside for being grateful that we physically survived the hurricane, many could find no reason to be thankful while trying to cope with the destruction.

Many homes were destroyed, livelihoods disappeared and for many, the trauma continued.

Is it possible to be fully grateful under those circumstances?

The answer, of course, is yes. For all that we lost on our street, we still have an abundance of blessings and we know it.

At first, in the midst of the worst trauma I thought it might be hard to keep an attitude of gratitude. Thankfully I was wrong. No matter what else happened every day there were substantial blessings.

A few good friends, a faith-filled church community and my caring family that didn’t let up in their support helped pull me through.

My morning gratitude walk started to have even more meaning.

Every day I looked hard for every good thing. The harder I looked the more I found, sometimes in surprising places.

In my husband’s backyard is an ugly, sprawling sugar tree plant. It’s so out of control that it is taking over the yard and is taller than the roof.

I think David keeps looking for Jack and the Beanstalk because he refuses to cut it down.

The ugly plant I hate suddenly turned into a thing of beauty when a blue flowering sky vine became entwined in it.

From ugly to beautiful. It was one more time when I had a brief streak of joy.

Streaks of joy kept coming my way, making me thankful for blessings big and small.

I’m sorry I didn’t keep a gratitude journey to record all the deep streaks of joy that keep coming my way.

Going through the trauma of the hurricane has definitely helped me become more thankful for little things.

A neighbor who had great losses during the hurricane said it also made her more thankful for every small thing.

“Right now I’m thankful for running water and a car that runs,” she said.

I understand that feeling. When my body hurts but I can still take a walk I say “thank you.” It’s no small thing and I can no longer take any physical ability for granted.

In her book, “The Power of Thank You” Joyce Meyer says if you choose to be thankful you can build a life of joy.

There’s a new book by author John Kralik about building gratitude by saying thank you to others in ways you might never have done before.

We all have people in our life who have helped us in some way or have done something especially nice.

The author suggests writing a thank-you note to someone from your past that made an impact on you.

Mailing a written thank you note is so much more powerful than dashing off another email.

Because so few people send personally written words of thanks, it is all that much more appreciated when we get one.

If you look in your local library for books on gratitude you’ll be surprised at how many there are.

I was surprised at how many of those books stressed being thankful for small blessings.

Big things happen when you start small.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.