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Project Gratitude is a work in progress

First slide

“Come on now, let’s start our gratitude list,” my brother, Marty, used to say in his best adopted Texas drawl. 


Here was a guy who beat a lot of the odds. He went west and settled in a small, dusty, rural Texas town where he started his own remodeling business. His successes came and went, like the iconic tumbleweed on an open field, but he always maintained a genuine sense of thankfulness.


We lost him nine years ago, but his full embrace of the gratitude thing is what I think of most often when I picture him sitting on his front porch or hamming it up on the phone. A call with him wouldn’t end without a gratitude shout-out and a “Love you!”


My head dips in comparison; I’m sure I’ll never be that good outwardly about gratitude. In my mind, I feel grateful but often the sentiment never makes it to me calling an audible — with family, friends or in prayer. 


I’m probably not alone. This week is a call to arms, or knees, as I redouble my efforts on Project Gratitude.


A friend on Facebook started a 30-day gratitude challenge Nov. 1. Every day, she posts something for which she is grateful. She doesn’t repost other people’s landscape photos with fancy fonts. She actually thinks it through and comes up with unique posts reflecting her life and her gratitude style.


I married into a family not shy about expressing themselves. While dating, my husband would come up with the most beautiful mealtime prayers. Eloquent and emotional, they were gratitude-filled. Since the pandemic, he and his nine siblings gather for regular Zoom calls. They’ve already planned one for Thanksgiving Day. They will go around the “room” and each person will list one thing for which they are grateful. Grab the tissues. 


Who knows what Thanksgiving Day will look like for most of us. For my husband, little dog and me, no 11-hour drive to Chicago, no bear hugs from in-laws, no selfies with nieces and nephews, no gushing over the newest babies, no card games, second desserts or long walks in the cold, crisp Midwestern air after the feast. 


This year, I’m going to rely on past Thanksgivings to sustain me. Growing up, our dining room table was circled by the most important people in my life: parents, brothers, family friends, aunts and uncles. My favorite Thanksgiving was in 2006, when my parents first met my now-husband. Maybe that should be the first item on my new Gratitude List. The more I reflect, I realize I might need a bigger piece of paper. 


The Catholic Herald staff wishes all our readers a safe and blessed Thanksgiving. Oh, I just thought of something else to be thankful for: all of you, our readers, and your support for what we do at the Catholic Herald.


Augherton, acting editor and general manager, can be reached at aaugherton@catholicherald.com.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020