Most people know why it is important to be grateful. I am grateful. I have never been hungry or homeless or ill without a hope of becoming well. I have always had a coat and gloves, boots and a hat. I have always had a bed to sleep on, a blanket to keep me warm and a pillow for my head. The water I have bathed with has always been warm and the water with which I have filled my cup has always been clean. My homes have always had toilets that flushed, a furnace that heated without wood and reading a book has always been a light switch away. I have watched other people take my garbage away and doctors have even come to my home when I was sick. I have had my arm poked almost painlessly to prevent some illnesses, my teeth fixed when they had little holes and my babies born with some reduction of the pain.
I have never been afraid of my neighbor or of someone coming into my house uninvited. I have never been afraid of the police or the army. I have always been able to use a phone to talk with someone. Write a letter. Send a package. All, with the expectation that they would eventually be home and that everything would be delivered. I have ridden in cars, on buses and in airplanes. I have ridden in boats and on motorcycles. I have ridden bikes and skated on skates.
I have always had medicine to put on cuts and scrapes
and antibiotics to kill most bacteria.
I have eaten fresh fruits and vegetables, even in the winter, inspected meat, pasteurized milk. I have seasoned my food with salt and sugar. I have cooked in ovens which did not require firewood and heated my home with furnaces which did not require coal. I have used electric sewing machines, blenders, mixers, toasters, hair dryers, curling irons, heaters, fans, typewriters, computers, printers, televisions, radios and games.
I have donated bags and bags of clothing to shelters. I have thrown away more than most people ever hope to have. I haven’t lived through a Depression or lived with unemployment.
My needs have been met and most of the time, my wants as well.
I can read. I can play my piano. I have scriptures of my own. I know where I came from and why I am here on earth. I know where I am going and what is expected of me. I know about the creation and miracles. I know the names of prophets. I know what happened to Jonah and Job and Daniel and Samuel and King Saul. I know about David and Goliath. I know who lived here before I did. I know what happened to them. I know what was buried in a sacred hill and what was brought forth from it. I know how languages are translated and learned.
I know the many names for a Heavenly Father and for His Son.
I have cards. A library card. A voter registration card. A Temple card. A card for insurance. A card to use instead of cash. Discount cards.
I have a phone at home and one in my purse. I can talk to people across the street or across the world. I have books and magazines and newspapers. I have letters I have received fifty years ago, preserved in plastic boxes.
I have clothes to wear and food to eat and a roof over my head. I have siblings and children and grandchildren and a never-ending accumulation of ancestors. I have family stories and reunions and births and funerals to remember. I can visit cemeteries. I can visit parks and zoos. I can walk on easy paths and gaze at forests.
I can walk alone or with someone.
We have had loyal dogs and playful cats.
My children have had gerbils and ferrets and fish.
We have had birds.
I have had gardens full of vegetables and orchards full of fruit. I have had trees for shade. I can shop in stores so full that it is hard to choose what to buy. I can give things away. I can give furniture to my children surprise pies to my neighbors. I can make things. I have a computer and printer and paper cutter and laminator. I have lamps and clocks and extension cords and knick-knacks and colored paper. I have punches and stamps and ribbons and lace. I have needles and many colors of thread.
I have had enough hugs in my life to squeeze every bit of air out of me.
I have the love of little grandchildren and the affection of grown children. I have all of their kisses locked onto my cheeks and remember most of their magical sounds.
I have decorations for holidays. I have dress-ups for Halloween. I have shepherd clothes for Christmas.
I have music books on the piano.
I can throw a camera around my neck and capture all of the life around me. I don’t have to wonder what anyone looks like or whose eyes the new baby has.
I can count my blessings in complete silence, in black and white, sepia
or in blazing color.
I can watch basketball games and football games, parades, dramas and documentaries. I can watch the faces of Apostles and hear their words. I can listen to music. At home. In the car. In the garage. In the yard. In a symphony hall. On the field at a football game. I can watch some things over and over and over. Kipper. The Snowman. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Christmas Story. Polar Express.
I can read so many books that I can barely choose between them. Novels. Short stories. Historical Fiction. Biographies.
And so it goes.
I have tried to count my blessings at night when the lights are out and my prayers have been said as a test of the words of a song. The song says when you can’t sleep you should count your blessings instead of sheep and you will go to sleep, counting your blessings. Since it is impossible to get to the end of the blessings I have today and have had all of my life, counting keeps me awake rather than lulling me to sleep. At least if I concentrate and really try.
The counting would simply never end and
my Heavenly Father has given me everything I have.