It’s not always delivered in an exquisitely wrapped box, topped with a perfectly tied bow is almost too pretty to untie. Sometimes, a gift is an answered prayer that renews our faith. Or the moment we pull up to the drive-thru window, open our wallet to pay, only to be told by the cashier that someone has paid for our meal. Gifts are powerful tools. When it feels like we’re carrying the weight of the world, a stranger appears with a door held open.
We are thankful for gifts, especially this year, when there have too many moments to count when burdens we shoulder are too heavy to bear.
More time spent closer to home due to social distancing requirements led many of us to renew relationships with our partners, kids and even our pets. We cherish the return of our children to the nest even if it means they’re lives have been put on hold because they must now go to school and work online. We’ve fallen in love with new passions, such as quilting or weaving. We’ve built fire pits for backyard s’mores and herb gardens for all the meals we’re cooking at home.
We’ve embraced new experiences, but we find the greatest comfort in what never left. Our pets are that constant, the ones who without complaint, love, listen and lead. Their undying affection is silently expressed through soulful eyes. They warm our feet as they sleep under our desks while we work. They listen with silent stoicism as we vent to family and friends when the days are hard. Our pets rely on us for food, water, cleanliness, and companionship, but the only payment they seek is a treat, a rousing round of fetch, or a belly rub.
Authors have opined on the benefits of gratefulness. Our bodies experience biological changes when we consciously choose gratitude. The practice of gratitude doesn’t ignore the bad things in the world that can paralyze our emotions and make us physically sick. Instead, gratitude and its companion, thankfulness, allows us to feel more alive. We sleep better. We express more compassion and kindness. We even have stronger immune systems, which is great news as we approach flu season.
We’ve adapted to new ways of living. We’ve learned how to cope as a couple when we’re with our partners 24/7. We’ve parented and schooled our kids while holding down full-time jobs. We’ve been reintroduced to the telephone to connected with friends in a world that seems bent on upping the ante.
We rub our weary eyes after the 25th Zoom meeting of the day, before kicking ourselves for not purchasing stock in the company. We are reminded of our new normal when we pull the straps of our mask over our ears, lather up to our elbows in hand sanitizer and head to the grocery store. We’ve made peace with postponed weddings, graduations, vacations, and family get-togethers, while mourning the connectedness that existed pre-Covid.
A new season is a chance to commit to thankfulness year-round, not just in November. Our healthy and happy pets have already figured out what many of us are still learning. Be grateful for life’s gifts – big and small. A walk through the neighborhood can elicit the same feelings as traveling to Paris. A delicious home-cooked meal prepared with newly honed culinary techniques tastes just as good as if it were served in your favorite restaurant. Family gatherings may be scarce for some, but our pets are always delighted when we walk through the door.
The wisdom of our pets is exemplified in how they treat us. They forgive our faults and love us for who we are even when we don’t like ourselves so much. They are gratitude ambassadors. Our relationships deserve the kind of love and thankfulness shown by our pets. In this month of true thanksgiving, it’s a perfect time to remember to lean on each other and be thankful for all of life’s gifts.