It was my sixteenth birthday. I don’t know about you but I was not a stellar person during my teen years – too much angst and drama, and not enough understanding and patience.
On that day, I was in the house when my dad came home. He told me that his coworker had found me a birthday present, and that the box was in the car. Instead of being excited, I reluctantly said thank you and got up from what I was doing to go outside. I am ashamed to say that I recall being annoyed, and thinking that this was probably something for which my parents would make me write a thank-you note. I sound like a monster, right?
I went outside and down to the car, and saw a large cardboard box in the front seat. Still hesitant, I opened the door.
Just like that, it was as if that moment of my life became a scene playing from a movie. The sun shone behind me as I opened the top of the box, and a ray of light beamed down on a tiny orange kitten sleeping in the corner. When the sunlight hit him, he stretched his front paws and let out a huge yawn, before opening his little eyes and looking up at me.
I remember being speechless, gaping down at this adorable kitten who had instantly melted my heart. I remember feeling ashamed that I had been so ungrateful when I didn’t know what was in the box. But that wasn’t it – I had been ungrateful for the box itself.
Someone had gone to the trouble to give me something, and I didn’t care. That was a wake-up call for me. I never told my parents that I had been thinking those things, but from then on I started to make a conscious effort to be aware of the things that people did for me that I hadn’t taken into account before. I wasn’t perfect – obviously still not – but at least I was able to acknowledge my shame and learn from it.
People help people all the time, and sometimes we don’t even notice. “Thank you” – those two little words can often make a huge difference.
To this day that box and its contents were one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Not just because I love animals and tiny kittens are a joy to behold, but because I learned a lesson in gratitude. And yes, I did write a thank-you note.
No matter what’s inside, be grateful for the box.