An invitation to choose and then name what evokes gratitude within you. This is part of the yearly Thanksgiving tradition that is practiced during our gathering with our daughter and her husband’s extended family.

Each person then records his or her responses on pieces of carefully sculpted construction paper, signing their name. The children add their ages.

Finally, all the pieces from all those in attendance, ranging in ages 4 to 74, are combined into a thematic piece of wall art. One year the resultant design might be a turkey, the next a cornucopia, the next a fall wreath.

Thanks to the attention of my daughter’s sister-in-law, these collections are then saved year-to-year so that each might displayed anew, along with the most current one.

As a gift to myself, I take the time to review each piece from each year. I particularly note what has been listed by the children. I like to observe the changes in the handwriting and the items listed, as each child grows. I also note my answers, often surprised at remembering what I wrote.

What I have come to understand is the necessity of choosing gratitude. Gratitude is not dependent on what happens to us, but instead on our attitude by which we view things.

Gratitude is a choice that is entirely ours each moment. Gratitude is thereby evoked by the attitude we adopt and the practices we refine. Our choosing to be grateful establishes in us the fertile ground of wisdom in which we may plant the seeds of joy. Gratitude, chosen and nurtured, springs forth more gratitude and eventually births joy.

Fortunately, we need not rely on our own abilities or power to make the proper choices. The Spirit of God is within us empowering us to choose gratitude and bearing the fruit that comes from a thankful heart.

Choosing gratitude opens us even more to God’s intention of generosity that places a hidden gift in everything. The starting point to find it is to be grateful. Our gratitude can be the tool by which we discover new insights, new possibilities, and new meaning.

Gratitude can be a powerful way we connect even with God.

This is the time of the year, above all times, when we are challenged to choose gratitude, to become grateful and to give thanks. We even set aside a special day and designate it a holiday.

But I propose that all times are good times to practice the necessity of choosing gratitude and then, out of a full heart, to give thanks.

May it be true for you and for me!

Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.