Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Mitt Full of Gratitude.

Can I be grateful for something that isn't my own?

Can I have gratitude for something without feeling indebted for it?

I don't know if I 'can'; but, I am and I do.

I am grateful every day for my mother. My mother had a hard row to hoe, but she did it. She didn't complain. She didn't blame other people (at least never in my hearing). I never heard her say a bad word against my biological father. Not once. I never heard her use excuses, or try to reason her mistakes out of existence. So, I am grateful for my mother. I am grateful for her strength of character, for her will to live a better life. Her choices were not made by me (or for me); but, I can be thankful, grateful and appreciative of them.

I am grateful for my step dad, who loved me. He didn't have to, he still doesn't have to. But he does. And I am grateful for that. For him, stepping in and stepping up. For the time he drove two hours (each way) to bring me a hat, mittens and a scarf because I was complaining about being cold at university (I don't know that I really was cold; but I do know that I was looking for an excuse to leave school and come home). He could have simply refused to let me come home, and hung up the phone on me. He could have told me, "Suck it up buttercup." Actually, those were his exact words. But he drove four hours round trip to hug me and say it to my face. I can be grateful I had a father willing to do that for no reason other than he loves me.

I can have gratitude. I do have gratitude. I am able to receive gifts without feeling the need to "repay" the favour. I give gifts because I choose to, not because I have to. I don't 'repay' a gift given to me, because that would be ungrateful (to me it would take away the charm of receiving a gift for no reason other than love) and it would diminish the reason the giver chose to give it. Exchanging gifts is different than 'repayment in kind'.

I've had a chance to read recently a blog written by an adult adoptee. An angry, unhappy person by their own account. This blogger refuses to express 'gratitude' for being adopted. She says that she owes her parents no gratitude at all. In fact, the writer completely rejects them. Berates them even.

The writer of the blog also rejects the notion that being loved and cared for is something to be grateful for.  I don't understand that. Maybe that's because I never, ever (not even once) felt like I 'owed' my parents my gratitude. They didn't ask for my gratitude. They earned it. Maybe that is the difference.

Sometimes I think people misunderstand gratitude, and misunderstanding, they dismiss gratitude as something pathetic, or undesirable. I might not have had a perfect start to my life; but, I will forever be grateful to my momma for everything she did to make her life, and my own, better. I will forever be grateful that although I was a shit of a teenager, my father loved me and stuck with us.

Less than three you guys. Always.

"Character- the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life- is the source from which all self respect springs." Joan Didion.

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