It’s that month again-that getting serious about socks month where there is really no turning back to bare toes and questions of scarves. The showy tomatoes are gone now, replaced by the somber potato that has patiently humored free spirits everywhere by enduring underground, by God, unwilling to let humanity perish from lack of tillable soil. And just when the austere vegetables come out, so comes our serious side-the side for many who feel those longer hours of darkness and wear overcast days like a winter coat. Experts call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter blues, but sometimes the depression of a soul doesn’t answer to anything.
And there is a day in there, right there at the beginning of a long Vermont winter – the day with a name like a humble offering. The city closes down on this day and we are told to go ahead, eat, drink, and be thankful. Maybe we save it up for that day. Maybe we wait for the feast to utter our thanks around a table, looking around at those that will be our answer to the question, why give thanks? Of course they will be the answer. But then sometimes the word comes out, thankful, without the fullness. After all, you did just spend the previous 4 hours in the kitchen cooking for a 30 minute reprieve before table clearing begins. You long for that thing that happens when you feel your spirit fold up within itself, contrite and undeserving of such an act of giving. Fullness of thanks can blow through a person like a wind of cleansing – proof that some things are worth a cloudy day.
So, why not give thanks? Why not give thanks for a chance to be truly thankful? Gratitude breeds gratitude even in a steaming bowl of oatmeal or a tedious session of four-year-old-shoe-tying. What if our areas of gratitude included those things that build up our most precious assets-our families, our friends, even our own spirit? Things like time alone in the car, warm clothes from the dryer, or a moment at the window watching the rain. Without the sum of the parts we cannot be whole.
Sometimes it means searching, maybe even stretching things a bit. That’s ok, this is where growth happens. When our minds are inclined towards noticing, then thankfulness will spread like a fire, burning through fear and uncertainty and dark days. A depressed spirit can become full, and an overcast sky become protective and comfortable.
If it’s true that gratitude breeds gratitude, then there is nothing trite about bedtime routines or the piling snow on the windowsill. Lean in with me to this season of thanks-let’s see if thankfulness breathes life into the dark days.