This year I am going to do something that I have thought about for a few years now but have not yet done. We all know that traditionally in the secular world the beginning of the Christmas season has been associated with Thanksgiving and the appearance of Santa Claus at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade. Not to give in to the secular world, but I do think that the Thanksgiving spirit, leads wonderfully into the season of Advent. I think that to experience and even celebrate the season of Advent as it should be celebrated we must practice gratitude. So many times, and we know it is true; we live in a way that displays ingratitude even though ingratitude is absolutely incompatible with happiness. So why do we do it? My guess is that there are many reasons. Maybe we have unfair expectations of other people or of the world. Maybe we are too proud. Maybe we have a sense of entitlement or maybe we are so wounded that we can’t see any good possibilities around the corner. Or maybe we allow ourselves to fall into laziness and slothfulness. On the other hand there is no practice that is more effective in leading us to feeling better about ourselves than practicing gratitude. And we really do have a choice- we can go one way or the other. There was a study done in which two groups of people were given opposite tasks for period of 10 weeks. One group was asked to list everything for which they were grateful every day. The other group was asked to list everything that was bothersome or annoying to them. Guess what happened? In both groups, the lists became longer and longer as the weeks went on. Each group became either more and more aware of their blessings or more and more aware of things that made them unhappy. So, it really is true that we find what we are looking for. We need to look for our blessings and count them. Writing them down would not be a bad idea. And this Season of Advent is a perfect time to do just that. Through these coming weeks we will be given the opportunity to reflect on the blessings that God has given us through salvation history. By recognizing and counting our gifts and blessings our attention will be refocused from the gift to the Giver, who is, of course God Himself. GK Chesterton once said that the worst thing about being an atheist is that you have no one to thank. Our attitude of gratitude leads to a deeper relationship with the Lord and to a greater desire to give of ourselves in ways that we might never have imagined. It is very true that life is not always wonderful. But it is always true that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful way to live. Happy Advent, everyone!