The Checkbook

By Donald Brazile

Over the course of many years, some of plenty and some of lean, the elderly man had formed a habit of writing “thank you” in the lower left-hand corner of each check as he paid his bills. It was a reminder to him to be grateful for what each check represented.

When he wrote a check to the phone company or one for the utilities, he put “thank you” in the corner. He would pause and thank God for all the ways in which his life was made more comfortable by these companies that provided him with their services.

When he wrote a check to the bank for his monthly mortgage payment, he would write “thank you” in the corner and pause to reflect on the comfort of having a roof over his head.

When he paid his water bill, he wrote “thank you” in the corner. He thought to himself that the water might not be all that great tasting and probably had chemicals in it but remembered how his forefathers had to pump water at the well in the winter and worry about it going dry in the summer. He thanked God for the water.

When he wrote his income tax check in April, he even wrote “thank you” on the check! He knew that a computer might not notice it, but he did it for his own benefit. It reminded him that he was thankful for all the benefits that being an American provides.

There’s a lesson and a lot of wisdom in this gentleman’s habit. Though many of us rarely write a check anymore, maybe we should look over our bank statement from last month and thank God for the blessings that each transaction represents, and for allowing us to have the money to pay for each item. Checking our bank statements can be a good checkup for us during the Thanksgiving season!

While you’re counting your blessings, don’t forget to give thanks for the friends who are celebrating significant anniversaries of their sobriety, and in turn, the reclamation of their lives. Be thankful for the neighbor who is recovering from serious surgery and for a church member who finally secured a job after a long and arduous search. Don’t forget the relative who continues courageously with chemotherapy treatments. Be thankful for times when you sat down for a rare family dinner and, without phones, talked to one another. And give thanks for the young couple, while taking care of their newborn baby, who pause for a moment of wonder and love and gratitude.

Oh, yes, and don’t forget to give thanks for our veterans. You might even take your gratitude for veterans a step further and remember to pause on Friday, Nov. 11, at the 11th hour, and remember those who have served in the uniforms of the armed forces.

One other suggestion — no matter how you say it, say grace over your meal on Thanksgiving Day. Giving thanks can transform an ordinary meal into a celebration — of family, love and gratitude. For this holiday was never meant to be observed in a single day, but throughout one’s lifetime. One day at a time, one transaction at a time, one check at a time.