So, the morning after the Thanksgiving night before, and here at 11 NG our fridges are stuffed full of leftovers and my heart is full of gratitude. As with last year's Thanksgiving (here), our celebrations came via much hard work, creativity and goodwill, and were filled with gratitude, joie de vivre and simple enjoyment of each others' company.
And as with last year, supplies arrived in various batches in various suitcases: pecan nuts, marshmallows, decorations, napkins... and some cute turkey cupcake cases, to be imaginatively stuck onto cards and transformed into place name cards! But the crucial ingredient, as with last year, was something that could not be contained in a suitcase: love; copious ladle-fuls of it, present in all the preparations, stirred and baked into the food and spilling over into the entire evening, underpinning our expressions of heartfelt gratitude and giving added energy to our time together.
Yesterday Facebook was full of quotes about giving thanks. This one - posted by the USC Network of Sacred Heart Schools - especially caught my attention:
Thankfulness is not something God gives us. It is not a spiritual gift and it is not a spiritual fruit. We can receive God's peace, joy and love, but thankfulness is something that we give to God and to others. It is a choice that we make. Let us thank Him today with songs of celebration, hearts of strong devotion and acts of admiration.
And it's true: the gifts and fruits of the Spirit are many, but they don't include gratitude! However, a thankful heart is a grace, something God-given, though it has to be chosen, desired and cultivated. Just as we work at being selfless, loving, forgiving and so on, just as we have to make daily choices to be all these things - whilst praying for the grace to be so - so we need to work at recognising God's many gifts to us and responding with grateful love. Last night it was easy to do so; but of course, a truly grateful heart has to be cultivated for always, not just once a year...