One Thousand Gifts; Starting my Thanksgiving Counter

My aunt gave me Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, last week. I am in the middle of it right now. What an incredible journey of discovering joy in her life through the process of taking note of 1000 things she is grateful for. And her notes of gratitude are so poetic too, like “clean sheets smelling like wind.” I was thinking this morning that I should start to count up to 1000 thanksgivings on my blog too. I just visited Ann’s Blog and apparently I am not alone in this venture. It seems that hundreds of bloggers are getting into the business of giving thanks. An army of ordinary people naming their gratitude online. As Ann says in her book, it is one thing to say “Dear God, thank you for all I have” and it is quite another to go on to thank God for specific (very specific) things. It reminds me of the instruction to offer specific comments about your child’s art work because, “that’s beautiful” just begins to sound like disinterest after the twentieth time you’ve said it. Instead, “I like how you used black to make that circle stand out from the white background.” And then the child says, “ah, my mom is really interested in what I am doing.”

In her book, Ann quotes Erasmus, “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” She goes on to says that the “habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude.” Nothing has made more sense to me in an awful long time. So here goes my first few nails, just in time for a week of Thanksgiving.

  1. Josh humming from the other room as he plays trains on the floor with Chris
  2. Twinkly Christmas tree lights strung around a cold front porch
  3. Josh coming into the room and saying “roar,” just to check in and hear me say “oh my, what a scary lion you are!”
  4. The sound of Chris pouring his sweet tea in the kitchen late at night
  5. Hot green jasmine tea at 5:30 am when the rest of the house is still asleep
  6. Colorful markers sticking up from a cup on the table
  7. Dog-eared Nancy Drew books
  8. The vibrant blue of a Marc Chagall painting
  9. Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows at the Chicago Institute of Art
  10. Finding another vintage Modern Library hardcover book for $2.00 at an Uptown antique store
  11. Discovering how Hennepin Avenue links up with Larpentur Avenue
  12. The Midtown Exchange building housing a global market
  13. Scraping the first snowfall of the year off of my windshield after a hot yoga class
  14. Furnace humming from the basement
  15. Cumin mixing with turmeric in my spicy lentil mash
  16. Snow-covered ivy against the house
  17. Getting off of the highway before my tire goes completely flat
  18. Being the arms that shelter a tantrum-ridden two year old
  19. Raking leaves at dusk, the night before a snowstorm
  20. A little boy in his new red snowsuit, sitting in my piles of leaves

880 nails left to go. I am already feeling a little more present. I can feel the wisdom in naming my gratitude. It may take a while but I plan to add to the nails of gratitude each time I blog here and eventually, I’ll reach 1,000.

  1. Well, I think that I officially need to get this book. I know a number of people who have loved it. I enjoyed reading your first 20 nails of gratitude.

  2. Julie Coleman said:

    This is wonderful, Heidi! Tomkin and I talk a lot about gratitude, but I like this idea of making it very specific. So, so, so many things to be thankful for. Including having you as a friend! 🙂

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