As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking about gratitude.
I’ve got a lot to be grateful for right now. My loved ones and I have had some narrow escapes. Every time I’ve breathed a sigh of relief, enjoyed a moment of happiness, even celebrating it.
I find myself thinking about all the sighs of relief and bursts of happiness which follow a moment of heartfelt gratitude. A writer could craft some seriously happy endings, using such gratitude as a foundation. My own Fairest ends with Rose sinking to her knees in profound gratitude for the reaction to her own actions. I channeled my own feelings into that moment when so many countries made same-sex marriages legal. After years of arguing, even fighting for this right (not to mention seething with resentment when other people ranted against it, so certain they knew better than the countless people they were dooming to unhappiness), I was shocked, delighted, and grateful for the change I’d yearned for.
Some of the best stories I’ve ever read (or watched) involve a celebration of gratitude, a burst of happiness at the gifts they’ve been given.
Gratitude can be something, however, that’s demanded, something that someone believes they’ve earned and expect in a certain form as payment. This can lead to all sorts of painful conflict.
Such conflict doesn’t just fuel a story, but it can help us to examine gratitude, to consider whether or not we truly want in a particular shape. We may be very disappointed if we can do. Examining expectations of gratitude can warn us about certain gifts we may be wary of accepting, if something we’re unwilling to give is expected in return.
Does gratitude play a role in your stories, dear reader? What are your characters grateful for? How happy does their gratitude make them? Did they ever expect a measure of gratitude in return for their actions? Did someone else expect it of them?