I don't spend a lot of time being grateful. It seems, well, gratuitous. I guess I have known and worked with too many people who hide behind gratitude. They use it as a shield from their unease, claiming it as a friend when it is really a protector. For them gratitude is in their words more than a reflection of their attitudes.
Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't appreciate my life and all the wonderful people in it. Nor do my moments of depression constantly overwhelm my my appreciation of the goodness of life. It's just that I am not actively thinking about how lucky I really am, nor am I the type who will readily mete out gratitude and good cheer if it is not right on the surface. I am, after all, a staid New Englander, born and bred, and as such have somewhat of an obligation not to be overly demonstrative.
I also have this secret belief that if I am feeling really thankful, I should also be feeling really happy. Though second thought makes me realize that the two do not have to be tied integrally together. It is, perhaps, appropriate even to feel grateful for the experience of things that are not all joy and wonder. At the very least, it is a symptom that I live an honest life--let alone a clear indication that my heart is still beating and my neural synapses are still firing.
In the end, I guess it is gratitude in the heart that really matters. Even in moments when stress or discomfort invade our lives, or those times when we could strangle our friends or family--whenever gratitude is trumped by circumstance--it is still possible to feel thankful for every breath we take, for every turn of one day to the next, and for every smile of friends known and unknown as we muddle through our day.
Rest assured that if you have read this far, I am grateful for your taking the time. And I hope your own gratitude inhabits your attitude during this time of thanksgiving.