I’m a huge fan of the Muppets. I remember watching Sesame Street with my kids just so I could be part of that fascinating puppet world for a few brief moments. When The Muppet Show appeared on TV in 1976, it became part of my calendar. And of course, I’ve watched all the Muppet movies with Kermit, Miss Piggy et al numerous times.
So it might come as no surprise that my very favourite version of the classic story is The Muppets Christmas Carol, with Michael Caine as the redoubtable Ebenezer Scrooge, Kermit as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife, all of it narrated by the Great Gonzo and his sidekick Rizzo the Rat. The various ghosts of Christmas are magical as they evoke the spirit of this timeless story.
At the end of the movie, after coming to understand something new about life, Scrooge sings,
“With a thankful heart, with an endless joy,
with a growing family, every girl and boy
will be nephew and niece to me,
will bring love, hope, and peace to me;
yes, and every night will end, and every day will start with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Life is like a journey. Who knows when it ends?
Yes, and if you need to know the measure of a man, you simply count his friends.
Stop and look around you: the glory that you see is born again each day—don’t let it slip away how precious life can be.”
There is more to the song, but the first verse and chorus is enough to yield the sense of how the movie ends.
Part of the reason I love the song is for its bouncy rhythm and joyfully infectious tune, which captures Scrooge’s transformation perfectly. The other reason I love the song is that it helps us understand “gratitude” is a choice. We can choose to live with a thankful, grateful heart. Gratitude doesn’t depend so much on the circumstances of our life and what happens to us. Gratitude depends on how we choose to respond to life.
In her book “The Gift of Thanks”, Margaret Visser writes, “Gratitude is always a matter of paying attention, of deliberately beholding and appreciating the other.” We choose to give thanks as we are mindful of the others in our lives, choosing to appreciate others deliberately and consciously. We acknowledge our dependence on one another, and we choose to express our appreciation.
We have learned something about our interdependence during this pandemic. We are not solitary individuals making our own way through life. Rather, as interconnected people, we have learned to care for others as we live together. We have learned again what a profound effect we have on one another, and we can be grateful for the ways in which we are able reach out to help each other.
This Thanksgiving, I will think once more about living with a grateful and thankful heart. Even in this difficult and painful time as we deal with the fourth wave, I will choose to be grateful:
- for other people in my life;
- for those who labour to keep me safe;
- for those who keep the places I visit clean;
- for those who wear masks and keep their distance to keep other people safe;
- for those who work hard to develop policies which try to help our whole society;
- for those who try to remain patient with people who refuse to adhere to safety protocols;
- for all the people who, whether we know them or not, work to make our lives so full—grocery workers, truckers, and shelf stockers; infrastructure workers who make sure that the power stays on so that we can be warm and safe in our homes; the multitudes who work behind the scenes, farmers and processors and builders and thinkers and planners.
As I give expression to that sense of gratitude, it deepens the grace in which I live, and the wonder of living gratefully. Along with Scrooge, I also can learn to “Stop and look around you: the glory that you see is born again each day. Don’t let it slip away how precious life can be.”