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The gates are beginning to squeak, closing on this year, 2023 and we are beginning to look back on how we have truly lived it. We can hitherto count how much we have been graced and how we
have grown in various ways. Soon, we shall begin to hear Christmas carols playing on our streets, while many of us are so busy closing down our annual accounts, preparing for end-of-year examinations, prepping for our final examinations, evaluating our formation programs, planning and preparing for the end-of-year liturgies, planning our holidays, finishing our constructions and planning for the produces and merchandise we wish to churn out for the festive season shoppers.

The feeling of joy for coming this far overrides every other sentiment we house in our hearts. We have worked so hard, we have lived so well, we have toiled and failed, we have transformed a few places, shared and supported our friends, we have moved on and achieved so much we are still alive! Most importantly, it is the time to look back in gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us, through us, and with us in the many people, events and experiences that have made the tapestry of our lives in 2023.

Throughout most of human history and across nearly all cultures, gratitude has been viewed as a basic and desirable aspect of social life (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Emmons & Shelton, 2002). Indeed, gratitude holds a prominent place in all world religions. It always melts my heart when in almost every home I visit I see mothers labouring to remind their little ones to say “thank you”, and at most, they are relentless in this! Say “thank you to auntie”, they will retort, “or give back the cookie now!” an ultimatum that surely underscores the value and importance of gratitude in our lives. It is well documented in Clinical Psychology studies that gratitude is related to a “wide variety of forms of well being” whereas “negative attributions” can adversely affect relationships (Wood, et al, 2010). We know of friends we lost for not showing gratitude for the many possible reaching outs and
generosities we accorded them.

Very often, we thank people who have done something beneficial but also, there are times we seem to thank people who are merely doing their job. Sometimes, we may find moments of gratitude even in the soul-shredding loss of a loved one – A life given and shared!

Gratitude must be cultivated in our lives. A friend of mine keeps a gratitude pot near her door and drops in beads for everything she is grateful for at the end of the day. At the end of the year, she empties her pot of gratitude and putting the beads before the Lord, prays in total thankfulness for all the gifts and graces the Lord has given her through the year.

One can also keep a gratitude diary where one records their blessings every single day. The simplest one would be to dedicate time each day to reflect on what you are grateful for in your life. Many of us do this already.

Finally, remember to also show gratitude to yourself. What can you thank your body, your mind and your spirit for at the close of this year? Above all, be grateful and better each day and remember that the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.
Thanks to God and thanks to you

By Sr Solome Najjuka(Philosophy Centre – Jinja)

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