It was a stormy, cold, dark Saturday. I was 7 years old. Mom and I were home alone. I phoned several friends, but they were all busy. Nothing interesting was on TV. I had read all my books, even the ones from the library. I felt very lonely.
I also felt disappointed because Mom had promised to buy me a toy that everyone else in my class at school already had: a beanbag frog. But she still hadn't bought it. So, not only was I the only one home alone with nothing to do, but I didn't even have a beanbag frog to play with. Thinking about this made me feel even lonelier. I couldn't help it. I started to cry.
Mom saw me crying and asked me what was wrong. After I told her, she had an idea for something I could do. She knew how much I liked to write, so she brought me a notebook and a pencil and suggested that I write down all the things I could think of that made me happy, things I could say "Thank you" to God for. I knew it was right to say "Thank you" to God for everything good because another name for God is Good, and He gives only good things to us, His children.
Mom always would remind me to say "Thank you" whenever someone did something for me or gave me something. Sometimes I would say "Thank you" only to be polite. Deep down inside I didn't always feel grateful. But when I said "Thank you" to God, I really wanted to mean it.
So I thought deeply about what made me happy and what I could thank God for. It was hard, because all I could think about was what I wanted: friends to play with that afternoon, new books to read, and a beanbag frog that I could take to school on Monday.
Then I remembered that, although my friends weren't able to play with me that afternoon, they were wonderful friends, and being with them made me very happy. So I wrote their names on my list and said "Thank you" to God for each of them.
Then I remembered that even though I had read all my books, usually I was very happy reading them over and over again. I added my favorite books one by one to my list. I said "Thank you" to God for them.
Then I thought of more things that made me happy: my parakeet who loved to whistle, my neighbors who had taught the parakeet to whistle and sometimes took me to school in the morning, my big orange cat who was always purring and cuddling, my best friend's mother who took us to a special place to buy doll clothes, my mom who baked the world's most delicious cake - the list went on and on. I said "Thank you" to God for each thing as I wrote it down in the notebook.
I filled up page after page with my list of "Thank-you's." Soon I felt happy again, and truly grateful for all the good God gives us.
It no longer mattered to me that my friends were busy. What mattered was that they were having fun, and now I was having fun, too.
As I worked on my list, the phone rang. It was Leona and Nancy. They were playing together and wanted me to play, too. And they had a present for me: a beanbag frog!
Every day there are more things to say "Thank you" to God for and really mean it. Every day my list of "Thank-you's" gets longer, and yours can, too.
A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.
Ethel Wasgatt Dennis,
Christian Science Hymnal, No. 3