Thanksgiving is a time for counting our blessings, feeling gratitude for what we have, for acknowledging the gifts of our life. Perhaps this year it might feel more challenging, for many reasons – political and otherwise – to feel blessed, to feel happy.
And yet, you may be happy at times and not even know it! Kurt Vonnegut (yes, the very same author of Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-five, and more) from his essay “Knowing What’s Nice”, has this to say:
“And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex…His principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’
So, I do the same now and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘Well, if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is! ‘ ”
I’ve taken to doing this myself, and it’s been great for me and others with me.
If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is:
* on a windy day watching the fallen leaves twist and twirl and go racing down the street or over the lawn, almost inviting me to join them.
* my first time this season catching a scent of smoke from someone’s fire place or wood stove.
* sharing hot chocolate or hot apple cider inside after being outdoors.
* seeing the first snowflakes of the season.
* hearing how everybody’s day was during a dinner with all family members present.
* venturing outdoors after a snowfall and being the first to make footprints in the blank, snowy canvas.
* watching a magnificent sunset (these November evenings are especially notable).
* getting up in the middle of a cold night and then quickly climbing back into bed and under the still-warm blankets.
* holding my new grandchild, leaning down, and taking in that indescribable baby scent; if heaven had an odor, it would be that.
* watching my dog run and play and get dog-tired.
* walking home in the early evening, in the cold, and seeing the lights of my home from a distance, knowing my loved ones are there, inside, where it is warm.
You can probably add many more of your own ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is’ categories to this list. You could even start a small journal (or keep a list on your phone, if you must) of moments like these. It will certainly help you feel thankful.