Every Thanksgiving my family takes turns going around the table, offering each person seated the opportunity to express the things we’ve been thankful for throughout the past year — and I’ve got to confess: sometimes it’s a lot of pressure.
It’s not that I don’t find plenty to be thankful for each year, (I do) it’s just that I’m much more comfortable with spontaneous thankfulness than rehearsed. I’m not great at performing when put on the spot — so what if I can’t think of anything? Or what if I’m the last person to share, and everyone has already taken all my gratitudes as their own? Will anyone remember that I’ve mentioned my cats three years in a row? Plus, we all have to state our thanks before diving into the meal, and as such, I mostly spend gratitude hour watching my leaf-shaped pat of butter slowly melt into foods I didn’t intend for it to touch, and wondering why we didn’t leave the potatoes warming in the oven.
OK, so maybe I’m a bit of a cynic, but I think everyone could use a little gratefulness inspiration every once in a while. If your family shares a similar tradition, or you’re just looking for a little extra oomph in your own thankfulness this holiday season, then this list is for you. Here are nine book quotes that’ll make you feel thankful — you could even try stealing a few when your turn ‘round the table comes; see if anyone notices.
1. “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
2. “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
― Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies
3. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
4. “There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
5. “Thank goodness for all the things you are not, thank goodness you're not something someone forgot, and left all alone in some punkerish place, like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.”
― Dr. Seuss, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
6. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
7. “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
8. “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
9. “To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life — like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild