Going around Facebook in November was a challenge to post something you were grateful for for 30 days. I was resistant. I don't like people telling me I should be grateful. I don't like to be a follower. I like to choose my own challenges, not be guilted into them.
It took me a week, before I succumbed, then I had to start out with seven things I was grateful for instead of just one. I am normally a whiney, half-empty kind of person, so I liked looking for less-obvious things to be grateful for. I thought everyone should do it. I wondered about my friends who chose not to be grateful. (Hey, I never said I was a great person.) I even started a gratitude list for my blog that I would post at the end of the month in addition to my daily gratitude on my personal Facebook page. I worried if it wasn't my first post of the day. I wanted to do it properly and reverently.
Then suddenly it started to feel a little self-righteous. There's a certain lack of humility in telling everyone you know how grateful you are, over and over, day after day for a month. But I kept doing it. I didn't want to look suddenly ungrateful, and there really were things I was grateful about and I was glad to be noticing them. I just wasn't so sure that I wanted to report back to the world on them. I committed to being publicly grateful for 30 days and dammit, I was going to finish it, and see how many people liked my gratitude statuses.
Thanksgiving Day arrived. I was driving to my mother's house and stopped to get gas and pee at a rest stop. I sat on the toilet in that metal stall and contemplated all the people who worked there on Thanksgiving; the restaurant people, the gas station people, the people who cleaned the restrooms. I was going to write a gratitude post about the little people and about how we disparage the stores that are open on Thanksgiving but feel it is our God given right to have every Mc Donald's on the thruway open 24/7. I was going to both show my gratitude and self-righteously alert people to all the unseen people who are ignored during the Boycott Thanksgiving Shopping posts. A two-fer.
And then I didn't. I threw Facebook gratitude out the window. I went to Thanksgiving, where I was surprisingly not asked about anything I was grateful for. I waited to feel guilty about not posting about gratitude on the National Day of Gratitude, and eventually realized I didn't give a crap. I told myself that I could catch-up the next day if I was struck by a guilt attack, but I wasn't, so I didn't. I wondered if people would think I was lame and could only come up with 27 things to be grateful for, but I realized I didn't give a crap about that, either. The month ended and I was never publicly grateful again.
It's the same reason that I don't blog every day. Quantity is not quality, and doing something over and over can strip meaning and joy from it. I don't want gratitude to become a chore or a tool of self-righteousness. I admire everyone who finished their months of gratitude, and I am not saying that they didn't benefit from it and approach it with more humilty. I'm glad I started the challenge, but I am fine that I fell off the wagon.
Actually, it's not that I am ungrateful. It's just realization that a public proclaimation isn't the be-all and end-all of gratitude for me. I'm extremely grateful for all the people and blessings and love I have in my life, and I am truly grateful for the people who wash the restrooms on Thanksgiving. I just don't need to post about it.
(And grumpy cat. I am always grateful for grumpy cat.)
Previously published on BlogHer