By Annmarie Miles
(From the January - March 2017 issue of VOX.)
I was brought up in a ‘please and thank you’ household. Requests for sweets, pocket money, permission to stay out after curfew and to borrow the car were never acknowledged as heard until the ‘please’ was added to the question.
Gratitude was most important. My mother would lock eyes with me, in a firm but affectionate way, until I had expressed my appreciation for whatever I’d been given. I see my nieces and nephews do the same with their kids, passed to them from my siblings, and I think, ‘Good job, Mam; you taught us well.”
I spent Thanksgiving in America last November. The trip was to visit the family of my cornea donor. I had the cornea transplant in 2010, and it changed my life. My eyesight had been deteriorating, and eventually, surgery was the only option to improve my vision.
Sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with my donor’s family, my sense of gratitude was immense. ‘Thank you’ suddenly seemed too small. I wracked my brain to remember any other words my mother had taught me. What comes after ‘thanks’?
Thanks a lot...?
Thanks very much...?
Thanks a million...?
It just didn’t sound... enough.
Being taught to say the words ‘thank you’ as a child is one thing, but it’s just the start. For our little ones, we teach them the words in the hope that the accompanying heart attitude will follow.
I believe I can actively show my appreciation by taking care of my eyesight, remembering that I benefitted from a life that was cut short, cherishing the memory of a man I never met and loving his family.
I know I don’t need to explain how this has caused me to reflect on the level of gratitude in my spiritual life. There are many words I can say and sing that express gratitude to God for who He is and what He has done. But I want more than that. I want to live a thankful life. I want to be a ‘count your blessings’ person. I am challenged and thrilled to see how I can put gratitude into action in 2017.
Annmarie Miles is originally from Tallaght, now living in her husband Richard’s homeland, Wales. If you’d like to read more between VOX Magazines, her blog is called Just Another Christian Woman Talking Through Her Hat. The Long & the Short of it, her first collection of short stories, can be found at www.annmariemiles.com/books, or you can pick it up in Footprints bookshops in Dublin.