An attitude of gratitude


Marvis (photos by Gretchen Lord Anderson)

I’m pretty certain if you could get an answer out of our cat Marvis regarding for what he is grateful this Thanksgiving, he would answer in no uncertain terms, “That you finally realized that I was locked in the furnace room for about 14 hours on Tuesday.”

100_0728 Being the optimist he always is, however, he would continue, “And I’m thankful that if I had to be locked in there in the dark as I was that there was a very old comfortable overstuffed chair where I could sleep for several hours and scratch the upholstery to my heart’s content.

“I’m thankful for the few minutes the cleaning lady was just outside the door. She turned the lights on so she could see what she was doing and I could see a sliver of light underneath that door. I’m thankful there was a rug I could lie upon beside the door while the light was on. Even though she ran the vacuum and couldn’t hear my cries for help, I am thankful there was a door between me and the vacuum. I don’t like the vacuum. I have to add, she really works fast. The lights went out too quickly.

“I’m thankful to have a respite from my brother and my sister for several hours. They knew I was in there and were laughing at me from the other side of the door, but they couldn’t get to me or really bother me. That was a blessing. I made them jealous because I whispered under the door all of the great adventures I was having in there. Well, I wasn’t truthful with them, but it was fun to make them think I was having fun.

“And did I say I was thankful for the uninterrupted nap time?”

When the door was finally opened, Marvis came dashing out meowing his thanksgivings. There may have been a few angry words among them, but he didn’t sound mad at all. He just sounded grateful to be free. He bounded up and down the stairs, in and out of laps, telling all of us of his time under wraps and demanding ear scratches and tummy rubs (for which he was also grateful).

We were thankful that he showed great restraint while he was locked up. It appears he left no deposits that had to be cleaned up.

Yes, Marvis would express his thanksgivings for all of those things if he could talk. But today, just about 15 hours later, he probably doesn’t even remember that his family forgot about him and hadn’t bothered to search him out. Marvis doesn’t hold grudges. Today, at this very moment, he is mostly thankful for the sun pouring in the window and the rays that have caught him and curled him into a warm nap. He’s thankful his sister is sleeping nearby and not intimidating him. He’s thankful for his human tapping away at her keyboard beside him, a sound he has found reassuring over his seven years.


For purple mountains’ majesty (Alaska; photo by Gretchen Lord Anderson)

Gratitude is a funny thing. We think we have to wait for something big to happen in our lives before we express our gratitude to each other and to God. I’ve discovered that an amalgamation of little things for which we are grateful become something big.

I’m thankful for my husband who, over 35 years, has never forgotten that it was on a November 22 in a rough-hewn park overlooking the Missouri River that he asked me to marry him. I know he hasn’t forgotten because every year on November 22 he has given me a red rose just like he did that day along with the engagement ring. He has remembered even though I have often forgotten that date. And the thought of three dozen roses accumulated over the years has become a very big Thanksgiving for me – reminding me of how much I am loved and appreciated in spite of myself.

I’m thankful for friends far and wide, for friendships renewed in the past year, for reunions, for St. Joseph, Mo., and Central High School, and for all of those people who influenced me to pursue my gifts and to listen for God’s call. It’s not that I always followed through, but years later I can still look back in grateful appreciation. I’m thankful for my older brother’s schizophrenia because, in the midst of it and of learning how to care for him in the 25 years since our parents died, every time I look into his face I see the face of Christ. I am reminded when my frustration seems fully ready to be released the words of Christ, “Whenever you do this for the least of these, you do it for me.” My brother reminds me that

High school reunion, St. Joseph, Mo.

High school reunion, St. Joseph, Mo.

even though he has nearly nothing of material worth to give, he is one of the most generous, non-judgmental people I have ever met. I am thankful for cousins I hardly knew but have now truly become family – cousins in Georgia and North Carolina and Milan, Italy. I shake my head in delight to have such a family in my adult years. I am thankful for my friends who became family to me in South Dakota and who I miss greatly (they’ll never know how much). I am thankful for our young pastor who has deliberately sought out my own advice and has made me feel such worth when I have at times felt somewhat worthless.

I am thankful that I am always a person, a child of worth in my Father’s eyes. It was God who knit me together in my mother’s womb and gave me parents who were only human yet raised me to see the world filtered through the eyes of The Greatest Generation.

Bounty (photo by Gretchen Lord Anderson)

Bounty (photo by Gretchen Lord Anderson)

I am thankful for people whose opinions differ from mine and yet are open to discussion and learning from one another. I am thankful for an odd thing called Facebook that keeps me in touch with friends around the world.

Like Marvis, I am thankful to be free.

I pray, this day, for those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, hopeless, confused, frightened, in danger, threatened, fighting disease. And I pray for those who are lonely. I have known that feeling too well myself. Yet even in spite of whatever challenges I have personally faced or am facing, I am thankful that God gave me the gifts of joy and hope. Help me, Lord, to share that with others. And I am grateful that Christ has taught me the complete waste of time to hate or to hold a grudge. I think our cat Marvis was given that gift too.

I am grateful for a national day of Thanksgiving, a day set apart for prayers of gratitude for all of God’s blessings on each of us as individuals and as a country. And this year, I am grateful that we have deliberately held off Christmas so that our Thanksgiving might be one of the most heartfelt of all of our Thanksgivings.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Psalm 100
All Lands Summoned to Praise God
A Psalm of thanksgiving.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

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