Grateful in Glen Ellen
As we tumble headlong into these dark – and for some, gloomy – months, it’s good to remember one of the lessons that our American ancestors suggested: practice gratitude. The Plymouth settlers and their Wampanoag friends taught us that, even if they weren't entirely swift on the follow-through.
Last week on an especially gray day I trotted out by the creek seeking warmth of the quickly fading sun. Old Mr. Sol was hiding in the fog, but the warm glow of a big leaf maple in its autumn dress was uplifting. Picture a bright, buttery yellow that looks like stolen sunshine. By chance a neighbor drove by which further lifted my countenance.
Christa Teitelbaum was happily on her way to a student recital. Christa has been a Glen Ellen fixture, patiently teaching piano to local students for more years than I can remember. Some of her past students have become musicians, others simply learned through her to appreciate music in all its forms.
When I saw her that
Sunday, smiling and eager to enjoy the accomplishments of her current students I was reminded of a long ago thank you essay that one of my students wrote to Christa.
The essay was an English class assignment, not particularly creative on the teacher’s part (that was me), but allowing the students to use their descriptive powers to bring a person or situation to life for the reader.
This particular student’s effusive praise of Christa’s gentle guidance and powerful teaching was memorable. I encouraged the student to mail the essay to Christa, which (after repeated prompts from me) was accomplished. Christa has since cherished the letter and we both smile in memory of the beneficial effects of that unsolicited gratitude. The essay earned the student a good grade, and the recipient a joyful thanks. All three of us were uplifted by a sincere expression of thanks.
So, in this week set aside for national gratitude (not to mention family feasting), I encourage all of my readers to think of someone to whom they can offer thanks and then act on that thought. If a letter seems complicated, a brief email or even a call can suffice, though we all know there’s nothing so special as a real piece of mail to keep and treasure.
Will you take a moment out of this busy week and pen a note to someone who deserves your thanks? Maybe that’s yesterday’s grocery clerk who schlepped your cloth bags to the car, or maybe the kid who used to mow your lawn in summers long past or maybe an unknown someone whose lovely garden brightens your daily walk.
Think of someone that you want to thank and “just do it,” as my old comic book friend, Rufus the Radical Reptile would say.
The bonus of sending a surprise thanks to someone is that you, too, will benefit recalling a simple kindness. Gratitude, like its close cousin Love, expands with practice.
If current difficulties leave you feeling ungrateful, remember, as my friend Marshall Livingstone pointed out recently: “Sure, we’re part of the 99 percent, but we of the USA are part of the 1 percent of the world. Think, for instance of enjoying hot running water. Or even, as Tyler Davenport noted back when he was a kindergartener at Dunbar, be thankful you have easy access to simply clean water.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers to whom I offer good wishes for a continued blessedly good life in Glen Ellen.
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Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call me at 996-5995; write me at Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks before the run date.