As I awake on this, my sixty-seventh Christmas morning, I am grateful for my lucky stars.
It is, of course, impossible and pointless to count all my blessings. I prefer instead to account for them...not from some centsless bank account, but on account of all my interest-bearing gratitude this past year. When I opened a blessings account a few seasons ago, I had no concept how vast / unlimited / infinite / countless my stars (my appreciations) would become. Thank-yous neither grow on trees or require a key. They need no room or physical space to be stored in because they are priceless. They can neither be bought or sold; they have no form as like love, trust, kindness, generosity, acceptance, faith they exist inside us. All I needed was a more open heart and willingness for gratitude to light up. Where would gratitude appear if it weren't for some awakening and awareness of appreciation? The Law of Attraction started to manifest when I became patient enough to give it time to light up my sky.
When I was 10 years old, I gave my 13-month younger brother a basketball for Christmas. He had not asked for one. Nor had he even hinted at being the least interested in playing or possessing a basketball. Those rather important considerations did not matter to me at the time. I totally ignored those essential details because it was all about me. I was too blinded to unselfishness by my own want. His liking or needing the gift was immaterial. At 10, it made no difference whether or not he liked my gift or not. To be honest, I gave him something he didn’t even want; I gave solely for my pleasure. All I cared about was his receiving a basketball from me so we could play and I could kick his butt.
In my youth I did not gift out of love, kindness or even consideration. I was, as most youngsters are, too self-absorbed in myself. In fact, any birthday or Christmas gift in those years wasn't much of a "gift". My mentality said "a gift only satisfies the giver" A gift with altruistic intent and thoughtfulness were foreign concepts. Thankfully, I learned this lesson way before I started my teaching career. Maybe my teaching was a result of this youthful blindness.
For all the darkness in the universe, I recognize light shines brightest when it is darkest. So in the light today I want to celebrate lumiances no matter how dim, diminishing or endearing.
I think devoting my words to my blessings is closely tantamount to showing my appreciation. Affirming blessings and stating thank-yous always feels grateful and life-affirming. Bemoaning life's struggles certainly does no one any good. Especially when obstacles are merely opportunities in disguise. Acknowledging is much more than noticing a light/dark duality. It is notining and thereby stating the positive light and luminance one experiences and shares. Sharing gratitude is sharing love.
Today I am most grateful for my opportunity to experience life. I am also thankful for my many miscues and missteps - each has became a valuable life lesson. But only after, I once saw it as a burden. Blessings almost always seem to appear when one has a perspective on burdens. My blessing are related to what I have in my life - what I can count on.
Because my 40' catamaran survived Hurricane Irma's wrath, I feel fortunate I still have a vessel - many nearby did not fare so well. Since July, I have built a beautiful relationship with a lovely woman - an ex-grade school classmate from Easton, MD. I also feel incredibly fortunate to have found her. I thank my stars for my faithful friends, a number of loving relatives and their presence in my life and I in theirs. Yesterday, to my pleasant surprise, for the first time in over two years, my 36-year-old daughter sent me an email from her distant Denver existence. A flicker of light in the distance does raise some hopes.
Another gratitude lesson I learned came from from my grandmother. She inadvertently taught me another valuable lesson about giving. For at least ten years, Grandma gave my three brothers and me the same exact present for Christmas.
“Grandma,” we would exclaim, “You gave us all a tie last year and the year before and the year before that". And BTW thank you for the umpteen time for your $25 check tucked inside a red envelope taped to which again accompanied a colorful "gay" necktie enclosed in thin flat Christmasy-wrapped boxes the, all four nicely-wrapped in the same paper design. Of course, my three brothers and I made "helpful" suggestions aimed at changing her future gifts. raising awareness for a personalized gift - something we would all appreciate. But that message was never received.
It is, of course, the thought behind the gift that matters most. Then I learned that the ultimate gift isn't some materialistic object that satisfies the giver. The greatest gift is showing up... our presence in our present moment is our greatest gift.