Being Grateful For What I Have

It is easy to forget about the little things  in life that really count and to be grateful for them.

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we highlight the things for which we are grateful, but what are those things, really?

I guess in this season of thanks, I am grateful for the things I have: a good family who is there for each other when it’s needed; I have a home, income, an active life of activities, a system of positive beliefs.

I’m not a hobo, but I’m beginning to develop a hobo attitude of “less is better.” My wife and I have gradually been reducing our “things,” purging stuff that we don’t really need. I think most of us just have too many things. It’s hard to be grateful when you have all that baggage. When we moved we would look at stuff and ask, “When did we get this?” or “Why did we get this?” Even with that, as I look at our garage now I see a hardware store full of duplicative tools, many of which we’ve rarely used.

There was a time in our human, American history where accumulation of “stuff” was based mostly on what you needed. Our forefathers had to hunt and process their meat, grow their own vegetables, build their own homes and defend them.

We live in a land of plenty, a society that is rich in comparison to others; fully-stocked grocery stores, some that even cook the food for you. We have mostly good roads, fast cars and, for the most part, an orderly society. In the lives of most Americans, somebody else worries about border security, national security, peace on the streets.

Yet I would bet that many people can’t really appreciate that bounty because they have never had to defend it, never been in jeopardy of losing it.

Take it all away and what will I appreciate? The little things: such as, a roof over my family’s head, food and drink on the table, clothes to shield them from the elements; the little things, but essential.

It’s not the latest video game, the newest car, the biggest house or the most-fashionable clothes. It’s food, water, shelter, a job, education for the kids, paying the bills; these are the things that keep us up at night if we don’t have them, but when we have them all, then those are the things for which we should be most grateful.

So I am grateful for the security we enjoy–it doesn’t exist in many parts of the world–and for the thousands–no, millions–of men and women who stand between us and the wolves at our doors. But if the wolf does cross my threshold, I am grateful that I have the tools to deal with him.

I am grateful for that first cup of coffee in the morning and thankful that I have once again awakened to another day to accomplish great things.  I am thankful for the warm supper at the close of a productive day and maybe a cold adult beverage.

I am thankful for my music and my instruments–my voice and my guitar(s). You probably won’t see my songs on ITunes or You Tube but my family will have them in recorded form so when I depart this earth some kid in my family will hear those old CDs of great-grandpa, decide to pick up a guitar and go on to stardom.

Well, it could happen.

I am thankful for my friends and acquaintances, the former being far fewer than the latter.

Good friends are hard to find, few and far between. I’m talking about a friend who can call me anytime, day or night, and say “I need help,” and I’ll drop whatever I’m doing, no questions asked, and be there.

I’ve got a few of those–more than my fair share because I am a Marine and Marines do take care of their own. And I know they will do the same for me.

I am thankful for acquaintances, both business and personal, but I know our mutual level of acquaintance doesn’t reach as deep as a friend.

So, to review: family, friends, acquaintances, system of positive beliefs, fulfilling activities, food, water, shelter, security–did I miss anything? The rest is just window dressing.

In fact, this has motivated me to attack that garage with new energy. Good Will, here I come.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email