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As we approach Thanksgiving, everyone is talking about being grateful.  Anyone who reads this Blog knows I am a strong proponent of Gratitude. Forgiveness is a marvelous key to open the gates of appreciation.

I have had many discussions with those who say complete forgiveness is impossible.  There are just some things which are unforgivable.  How can I forgive someone who is so clearly in the wrong, or has hurt me so deeply? Fiddle faddle!  I don’t know if I can convince the doubters, but maybe my humble treatise on forgiveness may help change the minds of one or two.

When something happens which creates one of those difficult things to forgive, your heart is filled with anger, hurt or disappointment.  And those feelings grip you tightly.  They crowd your mind with thoughts of the incident over and over.

Forgiveness could be another word for release.  What it does is release your heart and mind from its constant churning. That’s all.  It might have some residual benefits for the other person, but only if that person loves or cares for you.  The big and important change is in you.  It is all about bringing more peace to you.

I had an experience recently with someone who hurt me deeply and left a trail of destruction in her wake. She is out of my life now; I made my peace with her.  But I still think of the situation too often, wanting some kind of vindication. Only total forgiveness will free me from this. That forgiveness will not offer her anything and it will never erase what she’s done.  It will, though, lighten my heart and my mind.

With that lightness comes more energy.  Anyone who has not forgiven knows the amount of energy (and time) given when you are in that state. When you can’t get it out of your head. (I’ve also been known to spend a lot of ink on the subject.)  There’s so much you can regain simply by releasing all your angst around the situation.

Acceptance is part of the process of forgiveness.  I am of the belief that Acceptance is a truly powerful gift we have.  The simple act of acceptance can profoundly effect every aspect of your life.  Just think how easy life would be if you accepted everything that happened to you!  Far from making you weak, it keeps you from getting bogged down in trying to change things you can’t and empowers you to change what you can.  The first step to releasing is accepting what happened.

When you get really good at accepting, you negate the need for forgiveness.  You forgive in the next breath and keep moving. Like magic, the need for forgiveness evaporates right before your eyes.  This doesn’t mean you won’t be careful next time. In fact, without the cloud of unforgiveness you are likely to be more aware and avoid the kinds of situation which can cause you to need to forgive.

This acceptance and release gives you much more space for gratitude.

Forgiveness NEVER says it’s okay to harm another.  Nor does it eliminate the possibility of punishment for the other. It has nothing to do with any of that.  Forgiveness offers the forgiver calm, happiness, lightness, clarity and flowing gratitude. Pretty good stuff!

I wish that it was Thanksgiving every day.  Not because of the food. Goodness knows we eat way too much!  Not because of the time with family. (Though we could stand to do that a little more often.)  It’s not even because of the week day off.

I wish for Thanksgiving every day because it gets us to look at all we have to grateful for.  You don’t have to eat a big meal to know how abundant we are in this country.  Jack Canfield reminds us today to be grateful for all the little things.  Like food in the kitchen, heat warming our houses, a roof over our heads, a computer to surf the Internet and read thoughtful Blogs.  Gratitude is a powerful place to be.

Being grateful feels different.  When you’re grateful your chest is open and your muscles are loose.  When you think about what you don’t have, you get tight, your chest closes, your muscles tense.  It is a palpable difference.

Gratitude generates more of the same.  The Law of Attraction and all we know about abundance, calls for that state of Grace, in gratitude. You get what you think about.  When you spend most of your time thinking about what you do have and feeling grateful, it’s almost like creating a warm cape to throw over those feelings of lack.  At times you can melt them away.  The more you feel grateful, the more room you make in your life for more. 

Jack said it’s difficult for most people to be grateful.  It’s not that complicated, really.  It’s just a detective game.  See how many places you can find abundance in your life, notice where you feel grateful. That’s all.  The more you can put yourself in that state of gratitude grace, the more opportunities you find to be grateful, the more you will see.  And it adds up and expands, like drops in a bucket.

With the open feeling gratitude generates you also unleash more willingness to give to yourself and others.  When you feel abundant and overflowing, giving is a natural reaction. (It’s not a coincidence Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.)

Very powerful stuff, that.  Just imagine what we could all do if we took time each day, and as many moments as we can during the day, to be grateful for all that we have.  To pretend it’s Thanksgiving every day.

I wish for everyone long lists of Gratitudes.

This felt good on the second night of the Snow Storm. (I see why Murdoch was a little concerned about Scott’s fascination with nylons.)  One more from Alan Scott ~

Hello, this is Alan Scott saying things about this and that: This edition really ought to be called “Notes Written by Candle Light” or some other such eighteenth century essay title. Because, in fact, that’s what happened. The Scott household pulled a two century backflip last night and it was a strange and . . . in a way . . . exhilarating adventure. I hope you will forgive this personal bleat, but it’s this way.  When you’re backed into a corner where you must read through your papers and jot your notes by the flickering light of a candle, you find it hard to groove your attention to anything but. Through circumstances, as they always say, beyond our control, there was no electricity at the Scott residence yesterday . . . nor was there this morning when I left home. That is far from being the toughest of all breaks. I mean to say, people have, and still do, in many places get along nicely without an assist from Ready Kilowatt, but when you’ve been leaning on a source of power to make your house light and warm for a number of years and it’s suddenly yanked away, you find yourself on your ear and anything you have to say sounds like a lament in A flat minor . . . except that this isn’t a flat, but a one-and-a-half story semi-bungalow. If you have been exposed to this column for more than a few weeks you know that the Scott family has . . . like so many others . . . been faced with the problem of finding a permanent fox hole. 

 When I was separated from the service last December all we could get was a six month rental proposition and beating the deadline was a very-nearly thing. We made it finally . . .  last Friday. And on Thursday, I telephoned to the business office of the local utilities and thought I had arranged for the service of gas and electricity. Faults no doubt on both sides . . . but something conked out in the arrangements. When we came into the new place on Friday and made ourselves as comfortable as we could on packing cases, the lights were there and the gas range functioned. And incidentally, it was right about there that I caught a renewal of my awe and admiration for the resourcefulness of woman.

When I left home Friday the place looked like a chapter out of the boy scout manual on ‘camping in .‘ What little furniture we have . . . which is far too little to spread around . . . was piled undecoratively in odd corners and from the look of the place you would have thought it would be necessary to rub two frankfurters together to get a meal. But by Friday evening, when I got back .  .  . the house was neat and orderly, if still rather grimly empty . . . and we had a cooked meal by candlelight. I don’t know how Maralene accomplished all that. But that’s part of the genius of woman. The magic touch.  However, little did those candles know that night, that though they were just being used as additional light to lend a festive touch, it wouldn’t be long before they were serving a basic utilitarian end. 

On Saturday we had a hard blowing storm in these parts and damage was sustained by some of the wire supports or something. Service failed for about an hour and then was resumed. That’s why when, yesterday morning, the radio gasped into silence, Maralene thought that it was another temporary failure in power. She reasoned that perhaps make-shift repairs had been made during the storm Saturday night and now the men were back yanking off the adhesive and doing a permanent job. It did occur to her once or twice during the day that she might do well to phone the lighting company and make sure . . . you see she couldn’t see lights in any of the other houses . . . but then it was a bright enough day . . . and lights ordinarily aren’t turned on at this time of year until knee-deep in the evening. But she couldn’t call anyway because (a) the phone has not yet been installed and we have been cheerfully advised that we won’t have one before the end of the year. There is a new classification of priorities. There are eight grades, I understand, and a returning veteran, who is the head of a family, rates the eighth grade priority, and (b) She couldn’t go out to phone because she couldn’t leave Jeff and besides we don’t know the neighbors well enough to be bothering them by borrowing their phone.

I mention those details because they form the hitch that rendered us electric-less last night. By the time l got home, the utility business office was closed and all we could reach was the emergency repair fellow who was affable enough and perfectly ready to be helpful but powerless to do anything. What had happened was this: The previous occupants of the house had not been in it for some time and on several occasions the utility man had called around to shut off the electricity and had not been able to get in. So, an order had been put through which they call a No Access Order. That means that if next the man goes around and can’t get in he is to cut the wires at the source on the pole outside the house. That order was carried out yesterday. There was someone home all right, but the cut off man hadn’t bothered to see and had just carried out his orders. What had happened to my last Thursday telephone order to reestablish service, I haven’t yet discovered.

Well, there we were . . . no electricity, no telephone . . . no nothing . . . and it was a bleak, gray chilly day to boot. That’s no excuse for this long broadcast wail. But did suggest a possible topic for the column. If I can do this without sounding like one of the minor poets with a cherubic message  . . . I’d like to propose that all families institute frequent days, or at least moments of concentrated thanksgiving for the many conveniences which are never noticed ‘til they’re absent. So many things around the house depend on electricity these days. There’s the refrigerator, for example. You keep forgetting that with no electricity . . .  no refrigeration. You open the door and are astonished each time anew that there is no light on the inside. And of course you worry about the dwindling butter supply. The little you have left you are husbanding carefully . . . not knowing when you can get more . . . and how it’s going to keep with no refrigeration. Of course the good old refrig will coast along for some hours . . . taking cold from the ice cubes or the stored up chill within . . . but not for long.

And then, the heater operates in some way I don’t understand, by electricity. So the house is too cold for Jeffery’s bath. And besides, there is no hot water for his bath. Or for his mammy’s or pappy’s, for that matter. The wild idea occurs to you that you can heat enough water for Jeff’s bath at least on the gas range . . . or possibly you can just give him an oil bath. Sure, that’s it. Lug the bathinette into the bathroom, warm up the room with the electric heater and you’re all set. What’s that again? The electric heater? What electric heater, bub? Well, we’ll skip the baths and sit around by candle light . . . and since we can’t read the papers anyway, we’ll just listen to the radio and go to bed early. Listen to the radio, hey? What radio? And that’s the way it goes. All the things you take quietly for granted are suddenly swiped. If I can talk the Long Island Lighting company into patching up those cut wires today I think we will have a small thanksgiving ceremony at home tonight . . . and make ourselves realize how good it is to have heat and refrigeration and light and hot water and the radio going again.

But that realization didn’t do much to solve my problem of note-making by candlelight last night. I finally gave up and decided to fall back on a few items I had had in mind for emergency use . . . except that they were very few and at that I had already destroyed at least one. There was a yarn in the late issue of the New Yorker I had vaguely lined up for possible use in one of these editions . . . but when I went to look for it this morning, I discovered it was in one of the flock of magazines we had burned in the fireplace last night to take the chill off. Our predecessors left no logs and we haven’t had a chance to shop for them. When you move into a house at the tail end of May in forty degrees of latitude . . . kindling and logs are the last thing on your list.

But the New Yorker yarn, I believe I remember fairly well. It was about the tragic-comedy of a Mrs. Adams. Mrs. Adams maiden name had been West. Helen West, I think it was. And as Helen West she had remained on the charge account lists of a downtown department store. At a meeting of her bridge club or somewhere Mrs. Adams learned that said department store had received a shipment of nylons and was notifying its charge account customers of long standing to come in and avail themselves of the precious commodity. Mrs. Adams called the store . . . she’s one of the lucky ones who has a phone you see . . . and demanded, indignantly, to know why she had hadn’t been notified. The department store representative told her that the establishment was taking all customers in turn and was sending out notices alphabetically . . . What was the name please? And then Mrs. Adams remembered with considerable shock, that she had never advised the store of her married name and was still on the lists in the W’s. She hurriedly explained that her name now was Adams and that ought to rate a pretty high alphabetical priority. The store clerk just laughed hollowly . . . really, Madam, don’t try that gag on us . . . And there she was . . . shut out. I realize as I tell it now, that it’s not much of a story except that it’s a touch of irony whose vintage can only be the mad postwar scramble. But you see, ye olde editor is reduced to nylon stories. That’s what comes of having no light to read by the night before.  Come to think of it, today’s edition should be called, Once over no-light-ly.

I love Thanksgiving.  Not because of the turkey – I don’t eat turkey.  Not the big meal.  Heaven knows I don’t need that!  Being with family and friends is always a pleasure, but that’s not it either.  I love Thanksgiving because it’s a celebration of Gratitude and I believe in the power of Giving Thanks.

All the spiritual teachers encourage thankfulness. Chellie Campbell plays the “Glad Game.”  Cheryl Richardson, the “Thank You Game.”  They want us to know it’s fun, easy and extremely healthful to regularly recite what you’re grateful for.

There is not one person I know that, given a few moments of peace, couldn’t rattle off a dozen or so things to be grateful for. The air we breathe, the beauty of nature, family and friends.  All that we need.  Pretty good digs to live in.  A song that fills you, a movie that lifts your heart, a book that enriches or delights. Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

Just think what the world would be like if everyone held gratitude in their heart all the time!  It’s as easy as coming up with 5 things you’re grateful every day.  Watch that quadruple as you open your eyes to see even more. Paying attention to the things you have, rather than the things you don’t, will leave you feeling full and generous.

Look at what thankfulness can do when you’re in the midst of some not-so-glad stuff. Come up with a handful of reasons to be grateful for a person you’re angry at or estranged from, or something you’re not happy about. Then, without saying a word, watch the nature of the situation change to something that’s easier to hold in your heart. Gratitude paves the way for forgiveness. And forgiveness is the ointment that mends all tears. Like magic.

Cheryl Richardson suggests remembering to be grateful for the people who don’t usually hear it.  Any time I can tell these people how thankful I am for the work they do for me.  The staff of my insurance agent’s office who are always so kind and helpful.  The reference librarian who finds exactly the information I need.  The mail lady who brings packages to my door when it’s raining.

I wish for everyone lots of reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving and every moment of every day thereafter.

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