HFH: Gratitude

I woke up feeling so grateful the other day. We have so much.


“Hey, yeah. Now that ya mention it, I’ve been feeling pretty thankful, too. Right on!”

The dream we shared as kids of living in a big house with a bunch of friends has come true.

Uncle Jacob comes over all the time, and our house is full of games and laughter and good food and coffee and conversation and computers and tv shows and dancing and music and art!

We have so much.

We decided to throw a Gratitude Party.

Alex and Tanisha invited their families, and I invited Uncle Jacob and almost everybody else that we knew.


First thing Tanisha did was to catch up with our families. That’s Jacob sitting with her, and Cassandra in the black-and-white, and her own mom and dad behind her.

Mortimer was busy–I think he was at work–so he didn’t come. And Bella didn’t come, even though we’re neighbors. She’s never come over, actually. She doesn’t even walk past our house. She crosses to the other side. I’ve always had the feeling that she just doesn’t approve of her son’s lifestyle, and she’s never liked me. She wanted Alex to become an astronaut or a tech entrepreneur, and here he is a chef. Sure, he’s happy. But it’s not the life she wanted for him. Besides, our house is funky, not fancy.

But Cassandra came. She’s always liked me and Uncle Jacob, and she and Tani are really good friends. Cassie wore her black-and-white outfit from our last party. She said the black-and-white dress just feels right for her.


“Thanks for inviting me, Alex. I love hanging out with all of you.”

And Tanisha’s mom, dad, and brother came.

I had in my mind this vision of what our Gratitude Party would be–like a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. Everyone sitting around the table, each of us taking turns sharing what we were thankful for, solemnly, somberly, and with reverence.

It didn’t turn out that way at all!

Emma spent the entire time playing chess. Olivia Spencer-Kim-Lewis joined her and flirted with her! Emma felt more awkward than anything.


“You know, Emma, I like to pretend that I’m the queen you’re capturing with your rook.”

I was so busy catering that I didn’t have a chance to do much more than keep the food flowing.


Mind over matter: tossing invisible salad with invisible spoons.

Everybody loved eating the garden salad, roast chicken, and strawberry cake.

Everybody danced.


Eating and dancing form the basis of a real celebration!

Our friend from childhood wore his hotdog costume, like he’s done to every party. One day, we’ll have to throw an incognito costume party, so that he can wear his everyday clothes!


“As long as you feel at home, we don’t care what you wear!”

Norman Rockwell, it wasn’t.

But it was us.


“Thanks for doing the dishes before heading out for work, Alex!”

As we were clearing up after the party, I reflected on something I’d read recently: Are you a giver or a taker?

The type of party I’d envisioned was more of a Thanks-taking than a Thanks-giving. We would all sit around and pay our thanks, as if paying so many taxes. Whereas what happened instead was a true Thanksgiving. We celebrated our style, dancing, dressing how we wanted, doing what we wanted, and enjoying each other’s company. Our thanks was in us, not in our formal observance of tradition.


“You know it’s a good party when Cassandra Goth feels relaxed enough to tell jokes!”

It’s like something else I read the other day: Two Kinds of Gratitude. There’s “gratitude for” and “gratitude to.”

Coming from the true expression of our joyful feelings, our party sprang from our gratitude to.

Gray wrote a little poem to express his feelings in his own uniquely playful way. (He is a goofball, after all!)


“Does it have to rhyme?”

it’s the right attitood
for a righteous dood
in a virtuous mood.

After the party, I saw Tanisha napping on the couch. She looked so peaceful, so truly happy–in a way that I’d never seen her look before. And I knew then what gratitude is. We’re in the right place, at the right time, living the life that is right for us.


True contentment comes from gratitude, and that’s an expression of real, authentic reverence.

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