Lyons: Kids have the best attitude for gratitude

However you’re spending this Thanksgiving, chin deep in gravy-soaked carbs or preparing for retail Armageddon, hopefully you’ll reflect on the good things in your life – beyond the things that soon will overtake your refrigerator for several days.

Wise people reflect every day. That leaves the rest of us. And if you can’t find gratitude today, you really should have gotten over that Bears game by now.

Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” We know from history that he is wise because they named a Chicago suburb known for corruption after him. So actually, Cicero was named for a town in New York named for Marcus Tullius Cicero, but why should New York have all of the fun?

Granted, it’s harder for some than others to feel gratitude, but I’m surrounded by people I’m grateful for at home, work and in my neighborhood, and I’m fortunate to stay in touch with amazing friends and family around the world.

While I appreciate them all, I’m particularly grateful today for one person I first met exactly eight years ago. While my weight has remained relatively steady despite eight Thanksgivings since, he’s put on about 50 pounds since his unexpectedly early arrival on Nov. 22, 2004, and has amazed me each day since.

If you struggle with gratitude, spend some time with a child of this age or at least try to see what the world looks like from the perspective of an 8-year-old boy – when throwing a football in the backyard with your buddies by flashlight is the best thing you could possibly do, especially when it’s well past when you should be sleeping.

Bliss is strolling through the weeds on the edge of a lake searching for frogs. Joy is reeling in a largemouth bass, skipping stones across a canyon stream, flying off a sled in the middle of a hill or watching a ball sail into the left-field bleachers.

A tailgate burger is better than anything you could order in a five-star restaurant. Drugs are bad. God is good. School is fun. Bodily functions are hilarious. The worst part of a day is bedtime, but only because you don’t want the day to end.

Someday we get old and instead of marveling at the stars, we complain about mosquitoes when starting the evening campfire. We grumble over parking prices at the ballpark and associate the first big snowfall with an hour of toiling in the driveway, forgetting that all of those things we knew and felt as children are still true.

The world hasn’t changed, only our perception of it. When we focus on life’s annoyances, it’s hard to see the magic. We may know more, but we see less. You can’t help but see it again when you see it years later reflected in the eyes of a boy.

So thank you, Jackson Lyons. And happy eighth birthday, buddy. Your infectious enthusiasm is a Thanksgiving reminder that is almost as great as catching lizards.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at

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