An Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This brings to mind a large turkey with all the trimmings on a dining room table, surrounded by happy family and friends. It’s one of my favorite holidays. But this year, I want to take a look at “thanksgiving” as a verb, instead of the noun of the holiday.

“Thank” is a verb meaning to “express gratitude.” Expressing gratitude should be a natural daily occurrence, and it also comes with benefits. According to Derrick Carpenter, Master of Applied Positive Psychology, “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie.”

This pie reference brings us back to thanksgiving – the verb that is. Every morning, the first thing I do is think of three things for which I’m grateful. I try to make them different every morning. It starts my day off positively and just takes a minute.

I’m grateful for the big things in my life: family, friends, faith, health, career and a roof over my head. But here are are some everyday things that make me grateful:

Thank you, trees, and nature in general. We have trees around our home and every morning I marvel at their beauty. They’re stunning to look at against the sky, with leaves and without.

We lost two large trees in our yard about 14 years ago, and I was devastated. We planted two new ones, and one of them is a “9/11 tree,” which Arlington County donated to be planted in honor of victims of the 9/11 Pentagon terrorist attack. The tree was about 12 feet tall when we planted it; now it’s taller than my house. Not only does the tree provide shade, but it’s home base when we play baseball or kickball. The 9/11 plaque next to the tree reminds us and future families of its significance.

Which brings me to my next grateful topic: America. I’m so thankful to be living in a country where honest hard work will get you more than your dreams could imagine. You can buy a house, raise a family, send your children to great schools – it’s all possible. I’m also grateful to the Pilgrims, who sacrificed everything to practice their faith in a new land, and to the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution. And to all the people who make this country great: from entrepreneurs to farmers to teachers to doctors.

Thank you, technology. Technology makes our lives so much better. People who know me know I’m not very tech savvy. But thankfully, I have technology, like the app on my iPhone, to get me (the directionally challenged) places where it would have taken me twice as long looking at a map.

Thank you, books and libraries. As a child in elementary school, I remember “library day” as my favorite. Our school didn’t have its own, so we would walk to the nearby public library – a beautiful Neoclassical building. We all thought of it as a field trip. I loved the warmth of the real fireplace, the smell of the books and reading in one of the big chairs. I was always sad when the teacher said library time was over. In college, the library was my sanctuary – quiet and peaceful with no teacher telling me it was time to go. Now, I go to the library with my son and it’s still one of my favorite places. But instead of curling up with a book, I read in the car waiting for my son to be finished with football practice or a piano lesson; still a lovely escape.

Sometimes it’s important to stop and be thankful for little moments in the day. Like the kind stranger who let me merge into their lane of traffic, a bear hug from my son or coffee delivered by my husband every morning.

And thank you, readers and advertisers of Washington FAMILY! Without you, we could not do what we do.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

Sylvia Witaschek

Sales Team Leader

Washington FAMILY Magazine

[email protected]

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