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Header - Family Tip 4 - Alphabet of Gratitude

 

Melinda had the blues. For two days the thirteen-year-old walked around eyes on the floor, and shoulders hunched. Her mother, Beatrice, didn’t know what else to say or do. At the end of the third day, Melinda again shut herself in her room after school.

As Christopher walked in from work, he found a frustrated Beatrice. He handed his wife a half-dozen roses he had picked up along with the milk and cheese she had asked, and watched her expression relax; then a smile; then a sigh.

“I don’t know what to do about Melinda…” and she poured out her worries over fresh coffee.

“Let me have a talk with her,” her husband said after the last sip. And plucking one of the roses from the bunch, made his way upstairs.

“Good luck…” called Beatrice after him.

Knocking and creaking the door open to a muffled “Come in..” Christopher handed Melinda the rose.

“For me?!” said the teary teenager with a coy smile.

Alphabet of Gratitude - Image 1Christopher settled down on the edge of Melinda’s bed and asked about her, how she was feeling, what was bothering her.

As Melinda twirled the rose in her hands, she enumerated the usual reasons–or lack of them. It had begun with her best friend saying some nasty thing at school, and then Mom who had little time for her… and the list went on.

At these moments, he knew how important it was to let his girl talk. Mom was the same. He also knew this was one of those times when he must push everything else out of his mind and listen with his ears and his heart. He did. And she felt it.

After 20 minutes she was feeling better.

Now it was Dad’s turn.

“Sweetie”, he began, “You are a sensible girl and you have reasons to feel down. But, the thing is that when we are overwhelmed by life’s negativities, we tend to forget about the good things that are actually happening to us.”

Dad had listened for a long time, so now she listened. She loved him very much.

Christopher continued,

“Have you ever heard of the Alphabet of Gratitude?”

Melinda shook her head.

“Here’s how it works. For each of the letters of the Alphabet, we find a corresponding good thing that is happening to us. Some of the letters can be challenging but that is what makes this game interesting. So, how about we give it a try?

A – How about the A’s you got at school this semester. Seems to me you only got a couple of B’s but all the rest were A’s. Did your whole class have the same result?
“No, Dad! I had the most A’s…”
“Awesome!” commented Christopher. “That is great and makes me proud. I have a smart, diligent daughter.”

B – Beatrice for Mom... She is a good mother isn’t she? 

Melinda put her head down…

“Yes…Sometimes she gets on my nerves…But she is caring, and smart and does cook great meals… all in all she is a really good mom.”

“Did you know”, said Christopher, “that some children don’t even have mothers? …. 

“Yes” agreed Melinda, “Mom is the best mom I could wish for…She even puts up with my bad moods.”

C – our Creator. Christopher then went on to describe all the great things our Creator has given us. Not only this beautiful world with trees, waterfalls, mountains and oceans, but He also made us and gave us a soul and body, talents and intelligence to enjoy it all. “

D – Dessert. Now, your mother is a great cook but when it comes to her desserts…Wow! 

“Yes,” Melinda agreed, “her desserts are the best!”

“She is making Crème Brulee tonight!

Melinda smiled.

“And there, again, how many children go hungry these days. But we have your Mom and Crème Brulee.”

E – How would life be without Eliot?

That was the name of their funny dog.

“O, Dad, said Melinda, Eliot is a riot!

“And did you notice, Sweetie, how happy he is every day? I am always amazed how Eliot greets me when I come back from work. It is as if he had not seen me for a month. He jumps up and down, wants to lick me…Attitude is everything, it so helps in life. ”

F – Father Finn. I think we are pretty lucky to have him for our Pastor don’t you agree? Imagine if we still had Father Brock? He was irritable… and his sermons…But Father Finn is really good, and so kind in Confession…

By letter “I” Melinda was joining in, “I…for…ICE-CREAM! I loooove ice-cream!"

They played for a while, now giggling, laughing and commenting.

Alphabet Gratitude - Image 2

By letter “Q” Melinda put her hand on her father’s arm,

“Okay Dad, I see I’ve been really stupid and I’m sorry. I promise I will make a better effort and remember all the good things happening to me and in my life. When you think about it, it is impressive how the good things actually outdo the bad things.

“Did you enjoy our time together?” Her father asked, “Isn’t the Alphabet of Gratitude a neat trick?”

Melinda was all smiles now.

“It’s a real trick, Dad, I’ll always use it! One correction though, she said hugging his neck…”D” should have been for “DAD,” I have the BEST!”

As father and daughter walked into the kitchen, Melinda gave her mother a big hug from behind. Beatrice looked at her husband, wide-eyed, as if she was looking at a first-class miracle worker.

Of course, half of the solution to Melinda’s blues was the time her father spent with her. But the other half was the Alphabet of Gratitude for it gave Melinda a mind-tool, a concrete formula to help her next time she felt low.

 


 By Antonio Fragelli
Illustrations by A.F.Phillips

 

ALSO READ: Give Thanks and Be Happy

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 17, 2021

People hate the truth for the sake of whatever it is they lo...

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January 17

 

People hate the truth
for the sake of whatever it is they love more than the truth.
They love truth when it shines warmly upon them
and hate it
when it rebukes them.

St. Augustine of Hippo


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Anthony of Egypt

Anthony’s parents died before he was twenty leaving him in...

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St. Anthony of Egypt

Anthony was born in 251 in the village of Koman, south of Memphis in Egypt. Anthony’s well-to-do parents died before he was twenty leaving him in charge of a younger sister, and the owner of a considerable estate.

In 272, wishing to leave all to follow Christ, after securing his sister’s support and upbringing, he distributed his holdings among the poor, and retired to a life of solitude. He lived a life of penance, sleeping on a rush mat on the bare floor, eating and drinking bread and water. The devil was allowed to attack him grievously, on one occasion subjecting him to a beating that left him for dead, only to be saved by friends.  Anthony emerged victorious from all these trials.

At the age of thirty-five, the holy hermit moved from his solitude in the vicinity of his native village, to a location across the eastern branch of the river Nile where he made his abode in some ruins on the summit of a mountain. There he lived for twenty years, rarely seeing any man except one who brought him bread every so often.

St. Athanasius, his friend and first biographer, speaks of Anthony as not only spending his time in prayer and meditation but also in making mats. He also gardened.

At fifty-four, being sought out by men who wanted to follow his way of life, Anthony founded his first monastery in Fayum in a series of scattered caves, which he visited occasionally.

In 311 as religious persecution again broke out under Emperor Maximinus, Anthony left his solitude to give courage to the martyrs in Alexandria. When the persecution abated, he returned to his previous solitude. He later founded another community of monks near the Nile called Pispir, though he continued to live on his mountain.

Years later, at the request of the bishops, Anthony again journeyed to Alexandria to confute the Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ. All ran to hear the holy hermit, and even pagans, struck by the dignity of his character, flocked around him. Heathen teachers and philosophers often sought him out, and were astounded at his meekness and wisdom.

Anthony died at age 101 surrounded by his spiritual sons in his hermitage on Mount Kolsim. His last words were, “Farewell, my children, Anthony is departing and will no longer be with you.” Thus saying, he stretched out his feet and calmly ceased to breathe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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