One of the things I’m most grateful for as an adult is my love of reading as a child. I’m only now realizing how much I learned from the main characters of my youth: stoicism and plain living from Laura Ingalls Wilder; family values and time management from the Gilbreth children; responsibility and cooperation from the Babysitters Club. But no character taught me more life lessons, especially about gratitude, than Anne Shirley.
Anne understood the secrets of gratitude. She had a devastatingly sad childhood: her parents died when she was very young, and she was passed around from neighbor to neighbor, working as a combination nanny and servant even at five and six years old. She lived with drunkards and abusers, people with no moral character to speak of. Anne could have easily turned out just like her caretakers, but because she understood gratitude, she rose above her situation to become an extraordinary person with brains, beauty, talent and the knack for friendship.
In Wednesday’s post, I wrote about appreciating what you have, even while wanting more for yourself. Anne was always able to make the most of what little she had, without losing her hope and ambitions for a better life. She didn’t have any friends, but she used her imagination to help her “talk” to her reflection in a mirror or a pond, pretending they were other girls; meanwhile, she still cherished the wish for a real-life best friend. She only had a few books, but she read and cared for them devotedly, taking their lessons to heart; meanwhile, she craved further education. When she came to Green Gables, she didn’t have a fancy room or stylish clothes, but she pictured beauty in her head, and was soon able to appreciate the beauty of her real life, instead of the imaginary one she’d lived in for so long.
Anne had so much to teach me about gratitude, along with friendship, kindness, ambition, and creativity. What fictional characters taught life lessons to you?
This post is part of a mini-series on gratitude. You can find previous posts here:
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