Reading time: Approx. 13 mins.
This blog post takes place a couple of days ago after our Sunday dinner where we sat at the dining table and talked about our weekend experiences and about how much kindness we had met during the weekend. It quickly evolved into an exciting talk, and when Mette said, “If I should write a new blog post, it would be about gratitude”, I quickly grabbed the ipad and sat down and scribbled while we continued talking.
In fact, we often say “Aah, that could be a good blog post”, when we have experienced something extraordinary or have had an exciting discussion. Something that in one way or another feels valuable to share with you. Then we smile or laugh a little and then nothing else will happen. But this time it succeeded! 🙂
Well, and then I – by a coincidence – encountered an article on dr.dk with almost identical thoughts and messages the day after – yesterday. Absolutely surreal. But more about that at the end of the post.
Good reading … 🙂
So many nice and helpful people around us
Helpfulness, kindness, hospitality, forthcomingness gives a warm and pleasant gratitude-feeling to be loved. A thought that, regardless of what, everything will be allright, because there are lots of sweet people ready to help you if everything goes wrong.
During the weekend, the examples were standing in line for us: It begins with beeing invited to Mette’s aunt’s silver wedding in Vesthimmerland. THANKS
However, it creates the first challenge, because Turtle is still in the workshop, and how do we get to the party in an assembly hall located on a field outside the “village” (more like a couple of houses) Bjerregrav – and home again when the party is over?
Mette’s parents: “You can just drive with us.” Well thank you! 🙂 But what a detour: Instead of the 60 km they had to the party, they drove approx. the double by just slipping around us in Nørresundby. And that was with a caravan on tow. THANKS
They were bringing their caravan, so they didn’t have to return home at night. So we were also offered to stay with them in the parking lot outside the assembly hall. THANKS
When we reached the assembly hall, there were still 3 hours for the party to start, so before we dressed for the party, we sat down and talked and had afternoon coffee in the caravan. And then Mette could just dry her dress in their cabin in the carriage at the same time. THANKS
There were no narrow places during the party – and so much delicious food that I in a faint and inattentive moment fell a little in love with the dessert pancakes, afterwards noticed the unfortunate consequence that I did not have space for coffee and cookies or to the late night snack (this kind of inexperienced mistakes I rarely do!). When the party ended, Mette and I walked the 10 meters to the caravan and fell asleep. THANKS
In the morning, Mette’s mother served the big breakfast table in the caravan, and before we drove home, we visited the silver-bride couple who stuck their heads inside the caravan and said thank you for yesterday. Of course they were offered coffee and while we sat 6 adults around the small dining table we were invited to … brunch! It turned out that there was so much food left that Mette’s aunt and uncle would invite the four of us home to them for leftovers from the party. And, they added, we had to bring a lot of food with us home because they couldn’t get through all the leftovers themselves. THANKS
So after even more cozy gathering, a big lunch and good company – the silver bride couple, Mette’s parents, Mette’s cousin and boyfriend and Mette’s grandmother (and the dog Guffi!) for several hours, we turned back to Aalborg in the late afternoon with a HUGE box filled with lamb, baked potatoes, salad, buns, cheese, chocolate turtles and much more. THANKS
It was dark when we reached Aalborg Sunday evening, and even though Mette’s parents still have an hour home, Mette’s father would like to help us get up on the top of Lindholm and replace two gas bottles – even if it meant he was first going to release the caravan from the car. THANKS
(And the next day the gas heater ran out of gas, so it was really lucky that we had gotten new gas that night!) (THANK YOU!)
IngerLis is Mette’s mother’s youth friend: The same evening we received a message from her: “Hi. Do you want a pair of free tickets and join us to a handball match in Gigantium? “. And that’s not the first time we’ve had the pleasure with them …! 🙂 THANKS
And then there are all the strangers who ask if we do not want to live with them. Just because we described some of the hard sides of living like we’ve chosen on our facebookpage last week. Not to mention all the people we know who also offer us a bath, heat or food. THANKS
Then there is the kind elder gentleman among the audience who, during our recent talk, offered us his oilheater for the car – cause ha had one, he didn’t use. We exchange phone numbers, and already the next day he call and tell us, that he has sent his car to the mechanic, but it may take a day before it is possible to tell if the heater from his car fits in our car (and if it still works). That he is so outgoing and helpful is very overwhelming. And he doesn’t want anything in return. “It’s just something I want to help you with, and that’s how it is,” he says definitely and kindly. But at least you’ll get a big THANK YOU here, Bjarne. 🙂
What have made you happy today?
When Mette suffered from an eating disorder, she wrote gratitude diary. I appreciate it today, she says. Write 3 things down in the book every day that has made you grateful. It may be external things: “It was nice to go for a walk in the park while the sun shone.” Or inner: “I’m glad I gave my feet a footbath”. “That I said something nice to that girl”. It can be big and small things. “It helped me remembering, that even on the dark days, when things were really bad, there were also some good things.” THANKS
And something like that, we actually practice together every night. By far, most of the nights – unless if we have had one of those nights where we have been so irritated at each other that we do not feel able to talk together. We are laying under the quilt and share one or more episodes during the day that made us happy. It’s a nice way to end the day and it ensures that we do not forget the good things that has happened and it coaches us to “see the good” – even on the hard days. The background to this is, among other things, the psychological theory saying, that what we focus on is growing (read fx. Hans Henrik Knoop). When we focus on the positive things, they get more space, and we remember that there is always something good. Here, I think it’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t mean that everything that hurts, sorrow and pain do not diminish or magically go away. Or that the negative stories should be neglected. Ignored. On the contrary. If it wasn’t because we (I think) are actually good at talking to each other about the difficult things when the problems are there, the good positive stories would not have the same meaning. I think the small good episodes matters the most when they are faced with the negative feelings. But it’s Mette, who’s the psychotherapist here, so ask her if you want to know more. 😉
It’s actually a bit ironic to write this post because I’m currently struggling with family issues where I’m the one who insists on talking about the hard and the negative – while the others say, that we should just focus on the positive and look forward – and when it was all very tough here in our little house less than a week ago (read our last blog post to see more about this). But right there, it warms even more when people in a difficult time open their homes and their hearts. “Come in!”, “Take a bath”, “Here’s a little food”. THANKS
Remember to say thanks
All this talk about thanking got Mette to think of the American celebration Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day (as we think takes place just about now?). Neither Mette nor I know much about it. What the whole background is and where the tradition originates from. But it’s a day where you meet to say thank you? We agree on that. And a day with focus on gratitude, we talk about. I wonder if maybe Thanksgiving is a bit like Christmas – which has some great values , but maybe not really so much in the modern celebration? But we introduce all possible American traditions like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, etc. So why not this? And then go all in on gratitude talking and thoughts for all those who want to. It will be cool! Let’s meet and be grateful. Then we talk about, why don’t we just make it into a tradition here and now. Why so cumbersome? 🙂 Just as with our own invention: July Eve, July the 24th, where we got Christmas food, in the middle of summer. It does not have to concern everybody else to have a value for us.
I would for example like to celebrate Christmas, inspired by the Dutch “Christmas”, which I was very excited about when I lived there: In Holland, they have just begun to celebrate some Christmas on December the 24th. Instead, the children and the family celebrates Sinterklaas on the 5th of December. Here they also give each other presents. But only one small present. Likely homemade. And it might cost 7 €. And only one present is given to each. A couple of weeks earlier, you draw a name in a bowl – this person you shall give a present – like when we’re being elfes for each other at Danish schools and workplaces. And then the packaging itself is much more important. It should be imaginative and crazy. Eg. that the small present is stored in a large box filled with cold spaghetti (!) And then the presents are accompanied by a (long) personal poem to the reciever (and it may rime very badly). I think that many Danish children would love that kind of giving presents to each other 🙂 You are welcome to try some of the ideas for the 24th – for example the one with the spaghetti! THANKS
Mette remembers suddenly Thanksgiving from Beverly Hills! Brenda works in an exclusive clothing store with rich customers. Then a poor guy is standing right outside the shop. The businessowner just wants him away, as the man scares the customers away. But Brenda takes the man with her home to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. She is, of course, the guardian angel in this very moralizing serie, of course you can think of it, what you want, but she does the good thing and reminds the TV-viewers of the purpose of the holidays. To spread all the good in the world. That’s what it’s about.
And maybe that’s something we’ll try to remember when we’re going to celebrate Christmas this year (wherever in the world it will be): To start with ourselves and try to focus on the values of Christmas, rather than the habits and traditions, who have quietly taken over the spotlight – if the food is “the right” and the “indispensable” gifts. – We may celebrate Christmas with apple juice and a freezer pizza to challenge ourselves? – Maybe spend an hour after the food sitting and remembering people and experiences we are grateful to have encountered in the last year? – Invite someone to Christmas Eve, who doesn’t have a place to be? Otherwise, help others who need it? We have already dropped Christmas presents. We did that last year after a similar talk, so in some ways we might have actually started: Focusing on the values of the traditions we already have. Because it reflects to our everyday life. To remind ourselves of the value of helping others who need it, just as we help ourselves.
And the little word THANKS.
As mentioned in the introduction, I encountered a broadly similar article on dr.dk yesterday (in connection with the launch of a book on the subject ‘thanks’ by author Rikke Østergaard). The article can be read here: https://www.dr.dk/levnu/psykologi/tak-det-lille-ord-med-den-store-betydning