Gratitude usually occurs after receiving something. It is not often that one thinks about this after reflecting what went wrong.
Today, I suddenly found myself driving on the wrong street to go to a city championship high school football game for my school. I completely drove past the street without thinking and went straight instead of turning. It was very surprising to me as I had been to this football stadium many times before. When I finally arrived, I was15 minutes late and I was upset that I had missed the opening. After all, it was a championship game and I was faculty, the school nurse to be exact.
As I approached the gate, I noticed two of our Special Education students standing by themselves at the ticket booth. I asked them why they were there and not at the game.
"We don't have any tickets. Miss Michelle was supposed to meet us here and give us our tickets. We don't know where she is".
My eyes got wide as I realized that Miss Michelle was the cheerleading instructor and that she was already in the game with all the cheerleaders. I was willing to pay the $10 each to get them through the gates but after hearing the story the person at the ticket booth signaled to the gate that these students were to get in free.
We quickly took a seat next to the band and joined the fun and thrill of watching our football team shine on the field. The game was televised and there was lots of electricity in the air as our team was winning. Although very sunny, it was windy and very cold. One of the students that were with me did not have a coat on; he only was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. As I looked down on the pile of things I brought with me, I gave the two students my portable seat and the warm blanket.
"I'll just have to be cold", I thought. It was more important that these two teenagers misplaced by happenstance, be taken care of today.
We danced and cheered to the music to keep warm and to show our school spirit. I arranged for the football team manager to get me two hot chocolates from the team's food tent to keep them warm. I sacrificed my cheerleading pom-poms so that they could cheer and be excited for their team.
Our team won the city title. I took my students onto the field to let them enjoy the winning feeling with the players, and to be surrounded by all the excitement of their fellow high school students, TV cameras, high fives and so they could hug our team and coaches. It was electrifying and they had big smiles on their faces.
I had a big smile on my heart knowing that I had given a gift to these two teens as I drove them home. I could not help but think that they were the reason why I needed to be late today.
Gratitude comes in different packages and in different shapes and sizes. I realized how grateful I am that I am not perfect (I was late) and that if I just look around me there are many ways I can give to others if I just open myself to doing so. The more we are grateful, the more we have to be grateful for in our lives. Each time I gave these two Special Ed students a gift, I got back more in return than I gave. Now that is winning. Woo-Hoo!
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Donna Marie Laino is a nurse, humorist, motivational speaker and success coach. She also uses humor as a holistic practitioner and Certified Laughter Leader to deal with life stress and health.