Gratitude without platitude

Thoughts to Ponder

 “… When you receive, not only do you affirm your own worthiness

and open the way for more,

but you make possible greater joys for the giver….

*The Universe

So many holidays this time of year can lead to stress or to joy. That choice is entirely up to us. We start the season with Halloween and giving candy to Trick or Treaters. While we’re still eating the leftovers we’re shopping for Thanksgiving. We cook for days and dinner dishes aren’t finished yet when stores begin their Black Friday sales. From then on, preparing for all the winter gift giving opportunities keeps us on our toes, trying to avoid traffic jams at the malls, watching the ads for sales and telling the kids that, “That expensive toy may not be in Santa’s budget this year.”

Each winter we have Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years, all gift giving and receiving opportunities. We go to store after store looking for perfect gifts. Some of us actually started craft projects months ago. Either way we are putting a lot of thought and effort into our gifting opportunities.

We should put just as much effort into our receiving opportunities. This is not to say we should heap flatteries over an unwanted item. But we should recognize that the giver made an effort to find something we’d like and acknowledge that. One example of not receiving graciously is my mother who was taught to be a humble receiver. Humble is good, degrading yourself is not.

No matter what I gave her it was too much and/or too expensive. After years of her denigrating herself as well as my gifts, I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.” To her question of how, I replied that each birthday and Christmas I tried to find the perfect gift. Each time she said it was too much. Her negative comments made me wonder why I tried so hard to please her. After a moment of silence, she responded, “My friend told me last week that I take the blessing out of giving.” I said, “Your friend is correct. Can you just say thank you and stop there?”

Can we, each of us, offer sincere gratitude for gifts received without extraneous commentary? That is unless the gift is really fantastic. In that situation we can bubble over with complimentary adjectives.

I must admit that bit of wisdom did not originate with me. After years of saying that gifts were “too much” a friend gave me that same talk. Fortunately, I listened to her advice and years later my mom listened to mine.

Spirit: You shower us with gifts every day and we express our gratitude by thanking you for the new day, new opportunities, trees, flowers, grass, birds, animals and more. We know that you freely give those gifts that we can never earn. We express our gratitude by enjoying those gifts. We can we do no less in our personal interactions. And, so it is.

*A Note from the Universe,, December 2, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 2, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.


Not enough time?

Thoughts to Ponder – November 11, 2015

“One of the most essential tasks for living a life of purpose and joy is to command your time, rather than let it command you.”

Martha Beck*

 Martha said it so well. In this age of doing more with less and over-scheduling ourselves with work, family and community demands we tend to live by the clock. As a result we feel constantly pressed for time. We feel there is just not enough time in the day to do what we want to do. And, if you’re like me, you’re thinking “Where did 2015 go? It’s almost Christmas. Did we even have a summer?” It seems that every year gets shorter. Or, is that my imagination?

Today is a day of reflection on the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made for each of us. We need to take some time to thank those we can and reflect on the contributions of those who have gone before. Regrettably, many of us look at the calendar and say, “Today is Veteran’s Day. That means the banks are closed. Darn, I should have gone yesterday,” making this day just another time issue.

Remember the old saying, “Take time to smell the roses.” As trite as it has become, those words hold a lot of truth. While we must give adequate time and energy to our jobs and commitments, we can do a lot more rose smelling.

We can take a moment to listen to what our child is telling us. We can take a moment to listen to the birds sing or watch a leaf float to the ground. We can take a moment to deeply enjoy that first sip of coffee, inhale the aroma, feel the warmth on our lips, hold the taste on our tongues, experience the warmth spreading throughout our bodies and notice the alertness coming to our eyes and ears.

Do we envy the person who is over-worked? Do we envy the person whose stress level is 15 minutes short of a stroke or heart attack? Of course not. We envy the people who command their time, finding moments to regenerate their lives and their souls.

Each of us can take a moment to be grateful for our own existence and the people in them. We can be grateful that we have events in our lives that make us think we are too busy to take a moment to express that gratitude. A quick “Thank you” tossed out in the midst of our busy-ness will reach its target and be acknowledged.


Thank you for this new day. Show me how to use each moment wisely. I choose to be the highest and best I can be this day.

And, so it is.

* Daily Inspiration, Martha Beck, November 11, 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 11, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at

Express your gratitude

Thoughts to Ponder – May 17, 2015

“The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who
has done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.”
Russel Lynes1

Gratitude is not just to be felt, but also to be expressed. Too often we feel grateful for someone who has done something nice for us, but we often do not express our gratitude. We say, “Thanks” or “Ok, nice” and let it go at that. Yet when we do something nice for others, we hope that they will express their thanks in a more effusive manner, such as, “Oh, what a wonderful thing you did. I really appreciate your hard work.”

Often this happens because of the way we were raised. Erma Bombeck once wrote, “I’m going to call my dad to tell him I love him – and listen to him say, ‘This call is costing you a fortune’ and hang up.”2 My parents grew up during the Depression when people had very little money to buy gifts. As a result when they received a gift or kindness, they often questioned the giver’s ability to provide that gift. For example, my mother would usually say something like, “This is pretty, but it costs too much,” not quite as curt as Erma Bombeck’s dad, but the words still hurt.

Six or seven years ago, I felt so frustrated that I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.”  She responded, “My friend recently told me that I take the blessing out of giving.” I replied that her friend was right. Mom became somewhat more expressive of her gratitude after that.

An excellent example of this happened when I was in high school. My church’s youth group planned a spring break trip to New York City. I saved up as much money as I could and my parents added the rest even though it stretched their budget to the limit. A few days before the trip my geometry teacher asked me to stay after class. My imagination saw all sorts of terrible situations. When class was over I reluctantly made my way to her desk only to learn that she was gifting me with $20 to spend however I wished on the trip. While on the trip, I budgeted carefully, did not spend the $20 and purchased a $1 or $2 souvenir for her to express my gratitude. My parents congratulated me on my frugality.

On my first day back to school I presented the teacher with the trinket and she thanked me. Pleased with her gratitude, I gave her the $20 and told her I didn’t need it. With a sad face, she responded, “I know you didn’t need it, but I wanted you to enjoy yourself a little more than your budget would allow.” I didn’t understand the impact of returning the money until much later. I was an ungrateful receiver of her kindness. My pride had not let me spend her generous gift.

As I look back I realize how much I hurt her feelings and know that I cannot make amends since she has long since left earthly life. The only way I can repay her kindness is to do as Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”3

I ask my Guides to remind me more often of all that has been lovingly given and to pay it forward as often as I can.
And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 17, 2015

1 Reader’s Digest 1954, listed in The New Penquin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
2 Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 67, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall
Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 144, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at