The word comes from the Latin, gratus, meaning “thankful”. Gratitude is a feeling we often express when we have received something we may not deserve. Actually, when does anyone ever really deserve anything they get? I didn’t deserve to be born in the US, to a middle class family with limitless opportunity, albeit without an abundance of money. A good life, one that I am grateful for. So many good people – people better than I – simply get the shaft. Do they deserve that? And yet, there are millions of poor people around the world who are grateful for the little they have. On the other hand, I have met some true ingrates in my time.
Years ago, I was talking to the mother of a friend from college when she paid me a compliment. I wasn’t used to being complimented, and I had pretty low self-esteem, so I dismissed it. What she said next was the rude awakening I needed. She told me, quite bluntly, that when someone pays me a compliment, I need to say “thank you” instead of telling the person they’re wrong. It’s insulting to the person giving the compliment. Well, this was a new concept for me. I was a scrawny, nerdy kid with crooked teeth and thick glasses. I knew I didn’t have much going for me. But I was so wrong. And ever since, when someone tells me I am nice or funny or smart or anything else positive, I thank him. It says to that person that I accept that this person has good taste, and that I appreciate that they said something nice.
Being thankful is something we learned when we were in kindergarten. I mention this a lot. Kindergarten taught me almost everything I needed to know about dealing with people. Say “please” and “thank you”. Sit up straight. Share with others. And if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. That last one is under fierce debate right now in the court of social media. But the basic principles are pretty good. It’s a sure sign of the collapse of Western civilization when people stop thanking one another.
Saying thanks is kind of a reflex for some of us. I say it sometimes even when a “thank you” is undeserved. But I can’t help it. As much as I want to be someone else at times, I can’t bring myself to be an asshole. Being grateful is just part of who I am. And people want to hear it. Being thanked perhaps fills our souls, if only a little. Here in Texas people are pretty polite. I’ve heard that people from other places are a little callous. I’ve been to LA and Washington D.C., and I detected a little rudeness there. But I’ve never been to New York, and I hear people say New Yorkers are very rude. (However, I’d wager I could get a “thank you” from some of youse.)
I am grateful for many things, especially my wife. We have a very, very good relationship. That’s worth more than all the rest of my blessings combined. I’m thankful for the life I have. I don’t have any health problems, and I can get around quite easily. I have time for hobbies, and I have a good job. How could a person not be thankful? As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post, my wife has taught me to be thankful even for bad times, because it is through these trials that we grow and learn to appreciate the better times. I hope that’s true. I mean, we all have bullshit to deal with. Some of us have more than we deserve – there’s that word again. But maybe the assholes in our lives don’t deserve us, either. I think you never really achieve equilibrium with your relationships, anyway. So, we can give with some, and take with others. Try to be more of a giver in your life. I think you’ll be happier.
I want to offer my sincere thanks to all my readers. Thank you for putting up with my grammar, or lack thereof. Thank you for being okay with the swearing – I know someone who really knows how to curse, by the way. And thank you for reading this blog. You guys have no idea – or maybe you do now – how much motivation it gives me to know that there are people who actually want to read my awkward sentences. But I will always accept a compliment now because of someone who had the nerve to tell me to my face what an ingrate prick I was being. She wasn’t the first, so it took some time for me to get it.
Thank you, WordPress readers. And Happy Thanksgiving!