short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “Gratitude”

Little Stevie Wonder… Father John Shea… and Thanksgiving


I can’t remember where I read it, but I do remember the author, Father John Shea, and the exact quote: “Without reflection, there can be no gratitude.” Without stopping to think, to remember, to re-run those memories in our minds and hearts—there is no way we can muster a sincere thank you.

During my growing up years, there was a standing rule in our house that within a day or so of receiving a gift, we had to write thank-you notes to the givers—or we’d have to send the gifts back.  Talk about tough love.

Now, the notes didn’t have to be long, and we could write as large as we liked  (to fill up the card)—but we had to say “thanks for the gift”, and we had to mention something specific that we liked about the gift.  Some were easy: “Loved the new paint set!…or “The Slinky was great—it’s walking down the steps even as I write.”   Some notes were a little harder: Underwear, socks, new pajamas—favorite grandma gifts—always challenged our creative writing skills. “Cool jammies…100% cotton…the fabric of our lives.”  (Cotton later stole my cool idea.)

“Without reflection, there can be no gratitude.”

I remember Stevie Wonder, decades ago, accepting one of his many Grammy’s.  Wearing his signature shades, dreadlocks dangling, he thanked managers and producers and, of course, family, before the unexpected:  “…And I would also like to thank God…” (pause to collect himself) “…because it didn’t have to be this way.”  Being born blind and black in a culture that was in the throes of a civil rights battle, “Little Stevie Wonder” knew his story could have played out so differently.

“Without reflection, there can be no gratitude.”

So, reflect, folks!  Reflect on that loving family… and that beautiful home.  Think about that strong back and healthy mind so many do not have.  And the job!… and that college education.  Picture those beautiful kids and the joy they bring you.  Reflect on your faith and your church family.  And the list goes on.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving… and don’t forget to write your thank-you’s…

…or the gifts are going back.  🙂




Something to Celebrate

So, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl last night.  Must have been destiny because they already had purple and gold loaded into the confetti cannons.  Fans were dancing in their seats.  Team owners and coaches and enormous, tatooed football players were hugging and crying and planning trips to Disney World. Electricians were just glad the lights didn’t go out…again.  Definitely something to celebrate.

I saw a facebook post amid the flurry of Super Bowl posts.  “The tumor was benign—Praise the Lord!”   Sort of put things into perspective.

“Juxtaposition” (one of my few two-dollar words), means to place two things side by side—usually, two very different things.  It makes both stand out   “Super Bowl victory” vs. “benign tumor.” Hmmm.

(My other two-dollar word would be “disingenuous”—but I could never use it without being disingenuous.)

Joe got home from Afghanistan. The new medication really helps with Dad’s arthritis.  It’s a girl after three boys!  It’s a boy after three girls!  The house was destroyed by the storm, but no one was hurt.  After two years without work, he finally got a great new job with benefits.

Something to celebrate.

“I finally got a cut with a major artist,” the new songwriter said proud-humbly.  I heard one established writer deadpan, “I’ve had several cuts—and a few nasty gashes.”  (Songwriters will particularly get this—when someone records your song…badly. Arghh!)

“’What day is it?’ asked Pooh.

‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.

‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.”

Dr. Robert Schuller used to open his Crystal Cathedral telecasts exuberantly with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

Something to celebrate–this day.  Another day to kiss your spouse and hug your kids!  Another day to walk or read or create something with your own two hands! Another day to call your Mom or Dad…or enjoy a cup of your favorite coffee…or sit on the deck and feel the ocean breeze.   Been struggling?  For you (pardon the cliche, but it’s true), this is the first day of the rest of your life.

Something to celebrate!

So, what’s yours?

Keith   2/04/2012

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