Matt Knutson: Be thankful for even smaller circumstances

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“We’ll have to add that to our list of things to be thankful for this year,” I told my wife after our daughter’s latest achievement. After months of reminding our daughter to say please when she makes a request, she finally did it without prompting the other day during bath time. To be honest, it was almost other-worldly to hear her say it so confidently, as if we hadn’t been encouraging this behavior.

The grand debut of “please” came after a long day at home. Maeva had finally fallen asleep, and Sera and I were mostly zombies by the time Gracelyn was ready for her bath. The potential for a quiet house and an early bedtime for us meant I wasn’t necessarily giving it my all to make this particular bath experience a memorable one. Apparently our eldest daughter could sense that, as she boldly demanded, “Hand, please!”

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The activity of her washing my hands during her bath has become a new favorite for Gracelyn. Fully embracing her role as a helper, she’s often seeking out ways to copy whatever Mama and Dada are doing. It makes perfect sense in her mind that if I’m washing her, she should wash me. While I always attempt to limit this to my hands, any child of Gracelyn’s age would of course want to splash the water a little further than the rules allow. What normally starts as her pouring water onto my hands evolves into splashing water onto my forearms, and if I’m not careful, pouring water out of the tub and onto my shirt and jeans. As much as I love the gleeful, rebellious smile that comes across her face as she slowly pushes her boundaries, being drenched in water is pretty far down my list of things I enjoy.

In my state of sleepiness, it’s very possible that Gracelyn had been repeatedly requesting to wash my hand and I had ignored her. It is possible that it took me being oblivious to my daughter’s appeals for her to finally utter the word please, but at least the incident demonstrated to her that there is power in politeness. As soon as I got over the initial shock, I happily supplied my hand for her to wash.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there are certainly many things for us to be thankful for this year. The birth of our second daughter immediately comes to mind, but I think it is important to take stock of the everyday occurrences that bring you joy. Most people can recognize and be thankful for the big milestones in life like an engagement, wedding or birth of a child. By acknowledging the smaller circumstances, you can begin to create a world around you that has a much more positive outlook.

One day soon we’ll be celebrating when Maeva rolls over for the first time. Maybe I’ll have a really successful project at work. One day soon I dream of Gracelyn actually covering her mouth when she coughs instead of covering it immediately after she coughs. These are all things on the continuum of gratefulness that I hope to be experiencing in the near future. Everyday thankfulness creates the potential for infinite gratitude, and that’s something that can be truly life-changing.

If you’re making a list of items to be thankful for this upcoming week, be sure to include an item that isn’t so grandiose. It might just set you up to better acknowledge what you are thankful for year-round, and being more appreciative sounds like a great way to get a head start on a New Year’s resolution.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.