Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude, as William Arthur Ward once said, “can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

Each year, Agnes Irwin’s whole student body, faculty and staff come together the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to reflect and give thanks. Read below to learn some of what our student speakers had to say.

Margot Smartt, Grade 4:
“To me, Thanksgiving is all about love, family, friends, and happiness. For Thanksgiving, I have my family and friends over to celebrate. I pray for the health of others and I help my mom cook all the yummy foods for everyone. My family has a Thanksgiving dinner with delicious turkey and pie. I will donate all the yummy food that is left over to a kind soup kitchen. I pray for a cure for cancer or any other disease. I want everyone to have a happy Thanksgiving, like me!

This Thanksgiving I hope that in the Agnes Irwin community, all of us will get along. We are not leaders if we cannot all get together and not argue. We must all be thankful for the things we have, including friends.”

Sarah Nelson, Grade 8:
“This Thanksgiving, I think of our own community. We are all unique and come from different backgrounds, families, and traditions. I am grateful that we can come together and celebrate our common ground, our humanity. I am grateful that our Agnes Irwin community teaches us to think, to speak, and to act for ourselves and for those who don’t have a voice. I am grateful that we can share our ideas in a way that helps all of us to succeed and grow. At Agnes Irwin, we can support and carry each other through the tough seasons and the easy ones. For this, I give thanks.”

Annie McConnon, Grade 12:
“I have with me here today a card that I gave my pop pop 12 years ago on Thanksgiving. At Waldron, where I went to grade school, the day we left for Thanksgiving break, the kindergarteners would have a breakfast with an adult in their life. … The inside of the card contains two handprints, my pop pop’s and mine, and the back reads this:

Come and join my world, come and take my hand,
Come and join my world, come and be my friend.
Gather round and see how special you are to me.
Come and join my world, thanks for sharing this day with me.
Love, Annie.

Although childish, this poem, to me, encompasses Thanksgiving in its simplest form: Being grateful for the people around you who have impacted your life either directly or indirectly. Everything we do is made possible by the people and things around us even if we’re unaware of it. Ralph Waldo Emerson touches on this, saying, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Since the beginning of the year, many good things have happened, to all of us, that we should give thanks for. We also, however, have faced many challenges. From little things such as struggling to manage a workload, to bigger things, such as conflict over the results of the election, we are all striving to overcome something in our lives. And whatever that something may be, we must recognize and even be grateful for our struggles. For our struggles, our conflict with others, our deepest fears, things we may not think to be grateful for, shape who we are.

I’d like you all now to stand up and take the hand of the person next to you, and invite them into your world as I read again the poem that I gave to my grandfather 12 years ago. Come and join my world, come and take my hand, come and join my world, come and be my friend. Gather round and see, how special you are to me, come and join my world, thanks for sharing this day with me.

Whether you are best friends or not friends at all with the people you are sitting among, recognize that they touch your life in some way and for that you should thank them. Have a happy Thanksgiving.”

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