Friday, June 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

I wrote this for Mother's Day, but things got crazy and I didn't get it posted.  I decided that I would go ahead and post it now because Father's Day is fast approaching and since it is on gratitude it still seems appropriate.  I am grateful for an awesome father who is a good and honorable man that any kid would be proud to call Dad.

Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "Be grateful. How thankful we ought to be. How comfortably we live. How very easy is life compared to what it once was . . . We have it so easy, so pleasant, so delightful. We ride in cars that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. . . [We have] the miracles of medicine, the miracles of science, the miracles of communication, transportation, education - what a wonderful time in which to live. Of all of these wondrous, challenging things with which we live, I hope you regard it a blessing to be alive in this great age of the world. . . . I hope you walk with gratitude in your hearts, really. Grateful people are respectful people. Grateful people are courteous people. Grateful people are kindly people. Be grateful"
  -- The Teachings of Gordon B.Hinckley

I have always tried to follow the advice of developing "an attitude of gratitude" even though at times it seems that there is little to be grateful for.  Then I think of my mother's life and how hard it was for her and I know how grateful I should always be.

Mom was born in a log cabin in Nebraska, and while she was still an infant they moved to a homestead in rural South Dakota (on the Pine Ridge Reservation).  They lived in a little log house there.  She told of how in the winter when it was cold that icicles would form on the nails and hang down from the ceiling of the bedrooms, and there would be frost on their covers where their breath made moisture.  She was grateful for the fact that they slept many children to a bed - it helped to keep them warm. I remember that house.  My grandparents had a modern home by the time I came along, but that log house stood on the place for many years and was used for storage…and was a favorite place for us children to play (although I know we were told not to be in there as the floors were not good anymore.) 

After Mom and Daddy were married they lived in various little shacks that hardly kept the weather out, then in a soddy (with a dirt floor) and finally when they moved to the ranch where I was raised there was a little log cabin on it.  Mom was excited that she would have a house, but after a week of living there with bugs (including bedbugs), black widow spiders, snakes, lizards, and other creatures that came in through the holes in the walls she decided her little chicken coop with its wood plank floor was a better choice, so she swabbed it down with Chlorox and moved her family of five and the hired man in, hanging sheets to give some privacy at night.  She turned the log cabin into a place for the chickens. She said that it was hard to coop them up because the holes in the walls were so big they could get out…as well as the varmints getting in to them.  They lived in that little chicken coop for the better part of a year while they got crops in, fences up, and a little home built.  It had just one bedroom and an open basement.  We kids had our beds in the living room until we were quite big as they usually had hired hands living in the basement. 

My grandpa was a good one for finding some poor soul who was down on his luck and needed a hand up.  He would bring them out to my folks' place to work for their room and board and a small wage until they could get sobered up (many miles of dirt trail was too far to go to town for drink) or to solve whatever was the problem.  Sometimes they stayed a few days or weeks, a few stayed for months, and occasionally we had one who stayed for a year or more.  Mom accepted the challenge gratefully because although it might mean more cooking and cleaning and laundry, another pair of hands also meant she had to do less work in the fields.  Eventually my dad finished the basement into bedrooms and I, being the only girl in a family of six kids, got that upstairs bedroom.  How spoiled I felt.  And how grateful I was for parents who understood how important some privacy is to a young girl who is growing up with a bunch of brothers.

I am also grateful for having parents who taught me the value of work, the value of making do, and most especially the value of caring about people.  My mother would always say, "People are more important than things."  She believed it, she lived it, and she instilled it in her children.  How grateful we all should be for the blessings that life has brought to us. 

Thanks Mom and Dad for giving me not only life, but a great life!

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