When I was three and was given this life sized doll I promptly named Sally, I didn’t know the name for the feeling I had. Now I know that it was genuine gratitude, From my heart I was glad to have received this astonishing gift. Then someone would have said “say thank you.” After a while, “say thank you” was asked of me at all sorts of times, some for things that I was glad about, some I wasn’t. The worst holiday task was writing thank you notes. My paternal grandmother unfailingly sent me awful presents. But I was required to write her a note thanking her for them. It confused me quite a bit, since I wasn’t glad to have received her gifts.
I think children often have genuine gratitude which gets hidden behind the demand that they say thank you. We can teach them that saying the words is polite, but we don’t have to teach them gratitude. That comes naturally. I remember taking our two year old granddaughter to the ocean for the first time. We talked about the ocean on the very long drive from Connecticut to Delaware. But she had no knowledge of the sea. When we got to the hotel, she walked over to the window, looked out and exclaimed in awe, “OCEAN.”
No matter our circumstances, there are moments that shine with goodness. May we give thanks, with genuine gratitude, for such times.