My Thanksgiving holiday sketch GrrAttitude is about a married couple having one of those nothing-to-be-thankful-for days. Ever have one of those? (The incident below really happened to my wife and me.)
The setting is a laundromat:
“So,” he observes, “our marriage outlasted our washer and dryer.”
“What are the odds?” she snarks.
“Of our marriage lasting?”
“No! Of our washer and dryer dying within two days of each other!”
“Actually, I think it’s kind of touching, like when old couples die so close together because they can’t bear to live without each other.”
Like them, my wife and I drove to the laundromat every week back when we were first married. We thought it was pretty great just having a partner to–literally–share the load with. But that was then. This is now. Have you ever noticed how your happiness baseline constantly shifts? It’s based on what you’re currently used to. Not many years ago I thought ATMs were the bees knees: “Woo-hoo! I don’t have to go inside the bank anymore!” But nowadays I bank online, and grumble when I have to drive to an ATM. Happiness baselines shift. Constantly.
Back to the laundromat:
“The Bible says, ‘In everything give thanks,’” she observes. “But how are we supposed to give thanks for this?”
He suddenly finds a fabric softener sheet in a pair of boxer shorts. Chuckling, he says, “You owe me a buck.”
“What?” she says, but then realizes what he means.
“The Dryer Fairy!” they say together and begin reminiscing about the magical being made up by their children:
“Every time they found one of these in their socks or shirts it was because the Dryer Fairy put it there, and we were supposed to give them a dollar!”
“Only, when we said no they started giving each other a buck out of their own allowance!”
“How cute was that?”
Their mood has been completely altered. Not by comfort. Not by convenience. But by love.
Sometimes our children teach us.
“Looks like you’re being ‘thankful for everything’ here, babe,” he observes.
“Kind of,” she replies, “but it’s ‘in’ everything, not ‘for’ everything. I mean, I’m not thankful for this.” She gestures around her. “But I am thankful for our kids. And for you.”
“That our marriage has outlasted our washer and dryer?”
“Yeah. And that God loves me despite my ratty attitude.”
“Hey, 90% of gratitude is attitude,” he notes.
“And the rest is ‘grr.’ That’s the part I was focusing on.”
Happiness isn’t necessary for gratitude, but gratitude is necessary for happiness. The only way to be consistently happy is to build your happiness baseline on gratitude. Yes, God wants us to be happy. But he knows that gratitude (from the Latin gratis = “thank you”) is necessary for happiness, so he commands us to give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18)! King David put it this way: