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My sister, Gwynne, is one of the sweetest people in the world. Five kids in our family, I was the youngest and she the eldest and growing up she spoiled me rotten. Even today, if I’m coming over to visit she’ll ask, “What would you like for the dinner? Tamales? Pizza? Steak? Will you want cinnamon rolls for breakfast?” But the thing is, if she met you, she would probably find out your favorite dessert in ten minutes and be baking it within the hour.
She always kind, and I remember one particular instance when that kindness shined through. And so we, her brothers and sister teased her mercilessly for it.
We were on a car trip. One of my dad’s car trips. The seven of us were stuffed in the station wagon, I was always in the way back. The only reason to stop was for gas. Mom made sandwiches beforehand. Rest room stops were planned around those gas stops. (There was always a pot for emergencies.) On this particular trip, my dad needed help with directions. He didn’t often admit he needed help with directions, but he asked the attendant who pointed me dad in the right direction.
My sister, in the middle seat, called out thanks to the attendant. He didn’t seem to hear, so she called out again, “Thank you!” As we drove away, she rolled down the woman and called out, “Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!”
We, her brothers and sisters, of course, teased her mercilessly for her gratitude. But really, she was doing things right. We should be more grateful in our lives. The Mayo Clinic claims there are great benefits to thankfulness, improving physical health. It improves sleep patterns, mood, and the immune system. Gratitude decreases depression, anxiety, and even physical pain.
And really, as is true with most things in life, we could have learned this earlier if we just listened to G. K. Chesterton.
Chesterton wrote, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
He pointed to the need to make gratitude part of our whole lives, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
And he, of course, showed to where our gratitude should be directed, “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
Listen to Chesterton. Even better, follow the example of Gwynne.Published in