I have just finished reading a book titled "The Ultimate Gift" by Jim Stovall. It is a little book that can be read in a day or a half day if one cannot put it down…like I was unable to do. I read it on Sunday night and the rest of it Monday morning. It is a fiction book but it seems like a real story…one that could easily have taken place. The basic theme of the book centers on 24 year old Jason Stevens, a grand-nephew of Howard (Red) Stevens who had just died and his will has been read to his considerably extended family by his long time friend and lawyer, Theodore Hamilton who is another leading character in this small book. Jason is promised "the ultimate gift" after his Great Uncle has left no real money to his children who Mr Stevens describes as worthless and unworthy and untrustworthy to receive any large sums of money. His childern inherit his many business enterprises without reaping any of its profits…they are owners in name only. Jason on the other hand is set forth a year long pursuit of "gifts" under the direction of Theodore Hamilton and his assistant, Margaret Hastings. At the end of the year long quest for the gifts, Jason receives the ultimate gift which comes as a surprise to the reader….and also to Jason.
I was most touched by the chapter titled the "Gift of Gratitude". In it, the reader learns of Red Stevens’ long friendship with a man named Josh; the two men knew each other before either became successful in their chosen careers. When the two parted company, Josh told Red about his mother’s "golden list" which he (Josh) practiced every day of his life. Red went on to adopt the "golden list" and in one of his monthly searches, young Jason develops his own golden list according to his Great Uncle’s post-death instructions via a series of videotapes made prior to his death.
The Golden List is simply a mind-picture each day for the individual who keeps his own golden list. He or she sees a set of golden tablets and on them are written each day, all the things for which the person is grateful. I developed a golden list of my own after reading this particular chapter and I share it now. My own golden list includes my gratitude for these many things and parts of my own life.
I am thankful for my husband and my three sons and for my daughters in law and for my 8 grandchildren. I am so thankful that all of us, so far, have been blessed with reasonably good health and no major illnesses or accidents. I am also thankful for my home which is a true blessing….it is not large and it is not fancy but it is truly a home where we raised our 3 boys and now welcome them back as adults with their wives and families whenever we can have a family reunion or gathering for holidays or birthdays or any good or not- so- good reason! I am thankful that we have enough beds in our home, enough blankets, sheets and pillows so that all 17 of us can sleep under the same roof. I am so thankful that we have enough money to buy the food we need to stay healthy and feed ourselves on a daily basis. I am thankful for all the work I did over the years of my adulthood—first of all the work it took to keep up with our home and to take care of our sons as they grew up. Doing the mundane tasks of housewifery were a blessing when I think back on the years that my full time work was being a mother and a wife who stayed home and did the work that needed to be done in a home…I am thankful that I learned to cook and bake and that I always had a workable washing machine, clotheslines, later a good dryer to deal with the loads of dirty laundry produced by 5 people in a family. I am thankful that I had the strength and energy at the time I needed it most. I am so thankful I learned how to grow a garden from which I canned and froze vegetables and fruit for all the years my sons lived at home. I am so thankful for the rain and sunshine of summer that helps grow gardens and field crops, so thankful for protection from hail and tornados and bad windstorms through most of these years. I am so thankful that we have always had means of transportation and at the time we needed it the most, when all 5 of us needed to drive places, we were able to have the cars we needed for our sons and us and one spare if anything should go wrong with one of them (which it did!) I am so thankful for the professional work I was able to do from 1980 until 2004 as a public school librarian and music teacher. I am so grateful this job came along just as our oldest son was about to begin college. It was truly Providential and I acknowlege and give thanks to the One who looked out for us in that time when we needed extra help with the finances of a family of growing sons. I am so thankful for my extended family which has included my only sister and her 2 husbands….I am thankful that we got through the sorrow of the loss of her first husband which took us all by such shock in 1999. I am so grateful to God for seeing us through and fulfilling his promise that "all things work for the good of those who love and fear him" and that He saw to it that my sister and her 2 children were able to overcome the sorrow and grief and go on living even when they were at their saddest times. I am grateful for the man who married my sister 4 years after the death of her husband; he has been a blessing to her and her children and she has been a blessing to his children. I am thankful for my nieces and nephews and their families…for my brothers and sisters in law and the love we share as a family and the good times we have had together over the years we have known each other. I am thankful that I live in the United States of America, which is criticized heavily by people from other countries recently and even by our own present President… but in spite of it all, it is still, for me, the greatest nation on earth in which to live and be free and be blest with the Liberty our Founders envisioned when they began this new nation so many years ago. I am thankful that there are still so many others who treasure this nation and its freedoms and would give most anything to keep it that way. I am thankful for the hard times we have gone through as a nation…it has made us stronger and more determined to uphold our freedom. I am thankful every morning when I can stand up on my feet and look out a window and watch the sun rise in the east and hours later I can look out another window and see the sun set at its appointed time. I am so glad I have eyes to see the wonders of this created planet and look up at night and see the wonders of the universe. I am thankful for my many friends….friends I have known for decades and for friends just made in even the past week. Loyal, kind, reliable friends have made my life richer by far than any materialistic gift I might own. Lastly (at least until I ponder my golden list again when I go to sleep tonight at which time I will no doubt add to my golden list)….I am grateful that I am a child of God, raised in a Christian home by good loving parents who taught me well and gave me many gifts I have not mentioned…the gift of work, of laughter, of problems to be solved, of knowing the value of a family’s love for each other. I have so many gifts…..and so do you who read these words. I urge you to make your own golden list and ponder it daily.
This was the quote at the beginning of the chapter about the gift of being thankful. "Inthose times when we yearn to have more in our lives, we should dwell on the things we already have. In doing so, we often find that our lives are already filled to overflowing."
Best wishes to you with your own "golden lists".