This morning I find myself in a quandary, stuck between two different aspects of the same response; Thanksgiving and Gratitude. The two are related, but very distinct. And both must go hand in hand, lest the sum of their full meaning is diminished.
In our home we have a yearly family tradition of making a turkey out of construction paper, with individual feathers that can be written upon and then glued to the tail of the bird. Every family member takes three to four feathers and notes something for which they are thankful that happened during the year. Karen has saved these turkey diaries and posts them on the wall for us all to look back on and remember where we have been.
Such is an example of the act of giving thanks. It’s important to take time to verbalize and say out loud and give a voice in response to goodness and generosity we have known. To fail to do overlooks the good gifts received, but it also diminishes the soul mate of Thanksgiving, and that is Gratitude.
This is why I feel my offering of thanks this year is so inadequate, because the level of Gratitude I feel in my bones can’t seem to be matched or expressed in words.
How do I say thanks for my beautiful wife’s endurance and strength in fighting cancer? How do I begin to say thank you for the many of you who contributed to our need through Karen’s benefit dinner? Where do I start recounting my thankfulness in being surrounded by a community of friends that care so deeply and give generously?
This is the disparity between Giving Thanks and Gratitude.
As a writer, one of my biggest frustrations is the sense of inadequacy in expressing a thought. It’s my desire to always communicate accurately so as not to be misunderstood. And today I have embraced this shortcoming, knowing that I will never be fully able to describe what gratitude looks like. So I will resort to two simple, oft used words and trust they make enough sense,