The larger kind of gratitude

Being Thankful for What We Give

“Two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take, the larger

kind we feel for what we give.”

Edward Arlington Robinson

My Pa was, at one time, he chairman of the Catholic Charities annual drive for Holy Family Parish in Buffalo, N.Y. He was damn good at it, too. His secret was simple. He approached would be donors with the attitude that he was doing them a big favor. He wasn’t putting the hit on them for money. No way! He was giving them the opportunity to give to a good cause.

I was thinking of my Dad’s approach when I happened across Edward Arlington’s words about the two sides of gratitude. Most of us are pretty good at saying thank you for what we receive, whether it’s good service at a restaurant, a birthday card from a friend or, more profoundly, the gift of life from a loving Creator. But, maybe we don’t think enough about being grateful for the privilege of giving to others. It is a privilege, you know, to be blessed with enough of this world’s material goods to be able to give to those in need,

The “giving” I’m talking about goes way beyond a donation to UNICEF or even a handout to the homeless dude on the corner. I’m not talking necessarily about money at all. It’s our talents, our gifts that we need to share. It’s cool that we are humble enough to thank God (or our higher power) for the gifts we have received but we also need to show our gratitude by sharing our talents with our fellow human beings. What a privilege it is to share with others the gifts we bring to the table of life. To bury our gifts under the guise of shyness or modesty is a poor way of showing our gratitude.

To me, one of our noblest impulses as human beings is to want to “give back” to our community, our God, our country the blessings we have received. There is no better way to make us conscious of that “larger” kind of gratitude that puts the stamp of A Plus on our character than to step outside ourselves and use our gifts for the benefit of others.