Overlooked Gifts

Surprise by Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC)

Surprise by Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC)

Two young fish . . . meet an older fish . . . who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” —David Foster Wallace
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? —Joni Mitchell
It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
―Dietrich Bonhoeffer


I was very sick last week. Between spasms of pain and trips to the bathroom, I lay in bed and realized how much I take my health for granted. So, newly grateful, I savored my first bites of solid food. But as soon as I was eating, I wanted things I wasn’t supposed to have yet. My gratitude was short-lived.

Humans hurtle ahead, forgetting what’s here in favor of what’s next. Before resolving to do and be and have more in the new year, let’s take a moment to appreciate the abundance that already surrounds us. Better yet, let’s resolve to practice gratitude more often.


  • Did you eat today?
  • Drink fluids?
  • Is your body working more or less as it should?
  • Can you wiggle your fingers and curl your toes?
  • Think and hope and laugh out loud?

Be grateful.


  • Do you have clothes to cover and warm you?
  • A roof to keep you dry?
  • Hot and cold running water?
  • A bed to sleep in?
  • A place to call home?

Be grateful.


  • Can you breathe lungfuls of fresh, clean air?
  • Speak your mind without fear?
  • Walk outside safely?
  • Meet people?
  • Ask questions?

Be grateful.


When the season’s wrapping paper is cleared away, remember all the gifts that remain.

And be grateful.



  1. Michelle, the most meaningful presents ARE those that cannot be wrapped up with pretty paper, and those are the gifts I treasure most. Like the support, caring and unconditional love I’ve received during my time of grief from you, Jarrod, and my dear friends, your loving parents. A touching and deep message–thank you for sharing and reminding us of what’s most important in life!

  2. We are grateful for you.

  3. I loved what you said. My husband and I were just talking about this subject. We both said the same thing. We are so grateful to have each other, our health, our children and grandchildren! We try to let go of the unimportant, nitpicky upheavals of the day. It is a work in progress!

  4. So true, insightful, and grateful for your wise words! Proud of you!

  5. What lovely thoughts! I like to think I appreciate all the wonderful things that I have, especially love, family, good friends and health. They are the gift, all the rest is just the wrapping paper!

  6. What a beautiful article!! We have so very much to be thankful for, don’t we? If more people expressed gratitude for all the good things in their lives, I believe many problems and complaints would be short-lived. Though often called a Pollyanna, even I need a reminder of the positive things in my life. I am very grateful for my family, my heath, my freedom, my friends … my list goes on and on. Thank you for reminding me of all the wonderful things in my little corner of the world!

What do you think?