Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gratitude: Day One

The month of November is a good time to remind us that we always have a lot to be thankful for.

When I was younger, somehow we ended up with a comic book adaptation of Corrie ten Boom's autobiography The Hiding Place. I've since seen the movie, and I've had the opportunity to read the actual book. It's a fascinating story.

For those who don't know the story, Corrie and her family lived in Amsterdam during World War II, and one result of the occupation was that shipments of supplies into Amsterdam were cut-off. So, Corrie's family learned to live without a lot of things that we ... that I ... take for granted.

Some things we might not think about, like buttons, and other things that are logical, like tea.

They also had very little fuel, which meant that they couldn't heat their homes, and she describes how people, in desparation for wood for heating and cooking, razed all of the trees that were in the nearby park.

Corrie and her family hid dozens of Jewish Danes during the occupation, many of whom were secreted out of the country through a, kind of, underground railroad system. Ultimately, however, the ten Boom's secret was discovered, and the family was taken to jail. Corrie and her sister ended up in Ravensbruck, which was one of the many concentration camps throughout Europe. Her sister perished there, but through some accounting error, Corrie was released.

The one thing that struck me was that no matter what happened, Betsie, Corrie's sister, always remained thankful. This gratitude is the lesson that Corrie learned through her trials, and ultimately hoped to share with the world through her book.

In Corrie's life during the war, there was not a lot to be thankful for. Before they were incarcerated, there was never enough food (especially once rationing cards were issued, and they were splitting their food with their Jewish guests) or heat. They were always afraid of being caught. Once they ended up at the camp, the food issue was even more pronounced, but they also had to contend with extremely hard living conditions, disease, overcrowding, and parasites.

What's funny is that Betsie was even thankful for the fleas and lice, and when Corrie thought her sister had truly lost her mind - being thankful for the lice!?!? - Betsie said that the guards would not venture into their hut, because of the bugs, and so they were free to do things the guards would have prohibited, like secreting food and books.

It was a powerful lesson for Corrie. It's a powerful lesson for all us. Sometimes, even those things we think of as plaguing us can be something for which we should be thankful.

For the month of November, my goal is to take a few moments each day and document one thing for which I am thankful.

Today, my one thing is hot showers. It seems like such a little thing. It's such a common thing. It's one of those things we all just take for granted. We view it as neither a luxury nor a necessity, but anyone who has gone for more than a day or two without the opportunity to feel clean knows why I am thankful for showers.


  1. love this post and I also loved that book and have reread it over the years. And as for hot showers, if you want some appreciation for our conveniences we take for granted, read the blog you'll see how important the simple hot shower can much for which to be grateful! :-D


  2. Cool, thanks Wendy! I'm planning to join you in this -- and I'll start today by saying I'm thankful for your blog (always, for the writing which I enjoy so much, but especially) today for 1) offering up this idea which I like so much and 2) learnin' me about Corrie ten Boom and her family.
    Tania / Yarmouth, ME

  3. Wonderful post, Wendy. I think for me it's indoor plumbing in general - showers and a toilet that isn't overflowing or outdoors is a pretty big one for me.

    Re: buttons - I would not have thought of that, but I can definitely see the importance. Wow!

  4. This is a great post, Wendy. I am grateful for HOT showers also! We had to go to my mother-in-laws to take one and just when we got there, our power went back on! And hers went out that night!

    Today, I am grateful for my children!

  5. I second that. Hot showers (taken in a warm bathroom). Right now we have the hot water, but the house is cold enough I think twice before taking my clothes off!