A few RevGals have written recently about the Facebook practice of posting things you are thankful for each day in November. Many bloggers are participating, primarily because gratitude is a spiritual practice. We all need some motivation and accountability to pause and notice the good things in our lives. (Let’s be honest, there is a reason grumpy cat is so popular–we can often relate.)
Still, there is general acknowledgment of the potential problems with the practice. First among these problems is “bragbooking”– using your gratitude posts as an excuse to throw your good luck in everyone else’s face: “I’m thankful I can eat as much chocolate as I want and stay a size 5.” “I’m grateful that my daughter got straight A’s for the tenth semester in a row.” “I’m thankful that I’m an upstanding, moral citizen and not a destitute sinner like most of my ‘friends’ who are reading this.”
Yes. It can get out of hand. MaryAnn McKibben Dana thinks she’s safe from bragbooking by posting about the maple tree in her front yard. But actually, I really want a maple tree in my front yard and I tried to get my husband to buy us one a few weeks ago and he didn’t . . . so the maple tree thing is a bit of a sore spot.
Some people try desperately to avoid the bragbooking thing, which can lead to really vague comments. For example, they might be concerned about my particular lack of a maple tree, so they just say they are grateful for “the fall colors.” They might know that my daughter is not getting straight A’s, so they are simply thankful for a “loving daughter” until they remember their friend who has been trying to get pregnant for years, so they are thankful for a “loving family.” Then they think about how my son screamed at me last night, so they delete “loving.” Friend after friend grateful for colors and family. Also, it’s usually safe to be grateful for large theological concepts like “the grace of God.” Don’t get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for color and family and the grace of God–but it can make for pretty boring Facebook reading.
I am not participating in the Facebook gratefulness practice. Not because of any philosophical issues, just because I have given myself enough assignments this month already. But I did come up with a top ten list. So here goes:
I am grateful for . . .
. . . the bandaid that covers the cut on the pad of my thumb. Because it turns out that I use my thumb a lot.
. . . an eloquent and articulate vocabulary with which to respond to theologically ignorant Facebook posts.
. . . the grace of the “delete” key. (Because, let’s be honest, my eloquence will not be appreciated by the theologically ignorant Facebook posters.)
. . . a vet who understands that our 15-year-old cat with kidney failure does not need her feline leukemia shot this year.
. . . the one bright and shining aspect of all of the problems with the Affordable Health Care Act website: frequent use of the word “debacle” on National Public Radio.
. . . the fact that I don’t have much occasion in my everyday life to use the word “debacle”–even if it is fun to say.
. . . enough room on the living room floor to put all the stuff off of the couch so that I could sleep there. Because, well, my beloved partner’s script for the night was: “Cough . . . hack . . . cough . . . rattly inhale of breath . . . wait for it . . . is he still breathing? . . . COUGH!” By midnight I could not take it any more!
. . . being short enough to fit comfortably on our little couch–which isn’t actually a full couch– just the two ends of a three-piece couch because our new living room is too small for all three pieces. And the two pieces keep sliding apart because they aren’t actually hooked together . . . but still . . .
. . . the number ten–to which I should count before I respond to my teenage son after he articulately, albeit loudly, explains why my poor parenting is the cause of all of the problems in his life . . . and possibly the world.
Whether you are participating in the Facebook gratefulness extravaganza or not, I wish you a heart full of gratitude and a life full of grace in this upcoming holiday season.