“I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” my daughter Jenna once told me. She meant it. I don’t think it’s so much that Jenna has a great life–which she would be the first to tell you that she does–but the fact that she appreciates her life. It’s been said that people are not grateful because they’re happy, they’re happy because they’re grateful. I believe this. In my daughter’s case, she’s quick to see the positive in her experiences and express gratitude. And, I believe, it’s precisely this gratitude that attracts more good things to her.
For instance, several years back Jenna confided in me that one of her bucket list items was to see Bono–the lead singer and song writer of the mega successful rock group U2–in concert. She had been a long time Bono fan, even, as a teenager, hunting down his boyhood home in the tough Northside suburb of Finglas in Dublin, Ireland. (Fortunately a concerned Irishman picked her up, warning her that it wasn’t the kind of place that a young American lady should be wandering around.)
So when Jenna found out that U2 was coming in concert to her hometown of Salt Lake City, she could hardly contain herself. “I can’t wait,” she told me. “I just hope I can get tickets before they sell out.”
She didn’t. The concert sold out in a record fifteen minutes. She was disappointed but shrugged it off. “I guess it wasn’t to be this time.”
A few months later, still several weeks before the U2 concert, I was speaking locally for an international company’s Christmas Party when the company owners began giving away prizes to their employees. The company had had an especially lucrative year and I watched in amazement as they gave away hundreds of gifts: everything from ipods to snowmobiles and new cars. One of the prizes was a U2 package featuring a book on U2, a U2 purse and two tickets to the upcoming concert. Noticing that the winner didn’t seem especially excited about what he’d won, I asked him if he would be willing to sell his tickets. “Sure,” he said. “I have no idea who U2 is.”
I purchased the tickets and the next day informed my daughter that I had a surprise for her. As I got ready to give her what I thought would be the surprise of a lifetime I made an awful discovery. The two tickets I’d bought had been purchased at different times. They were not next to each other–they weren’t even close to each other–which meant she would be going to the concert alone. Suddenly my surprise didn’t seem so great.
When I showed Jenna the tickets she was ecstatic, throwing her arms around me. “You’re so good to me,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not as great as it sounds,” I replied. “The tickets aren’t together. I’m sorry.”
Jenna laughed. “You bought me tickets to U2 and you’re apologizing? Are you kidding? You’re the best dad ever! Besides, things will work out.”
Honestly, how could you not love giving to someone so grateful?
Jenna invited her younger sister, Allyson, to go to the concert with her. The night of the concert both my daughters again thanked me for the tickets and left for the show. Several hours later I received a call from Jenna’s phone. I answered to blaring music. “Jenna?”
“Dad,” she shouted. “You’ll never believe where I am. I’m literally three feet from Bono. I can touch him. I just got his sweat on me.”
“Bono’s sweating on you?”
“I’ll tell you about it later,” she said. “Got to go. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Later that night, Jenna told me what had transpired. As my daughters were entering the concert, handing in their mismatched tickets at the gate, a gigantic, tattoo-covered security guard looked the girls over then said in a thick Irish brogue, “Just a moment, please. I need to see your tickets.”
Jenna quizzically handed the man her ticket. He ran it through a machine then shook his head. “I’m sorry. This ticket’s no good.”
Jenna’s heart froze. “What? My dad bought them.”
“I’m sorry, it’s no good.” He turned to my other daughter. “Now let me see yours.” Allyson anxiously surrendered her ticket to the man. He frowned. “Just as I thought. This one’s no good either. I’m afraid you’re going to need these.” He handed my daughters two day-glo orange wrist bands. Jenna looked at the guard. “What are these?”
“Like I said, your tickets weren’t any good. So I’m putting you on the stage with the band.”
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack. Say hi to Bono for me.”
Jenna squealed. “May I hug you?”
The giant guard smiled. “Sure.” He hugged her with his massive arms.
Life has taught me that there are none so impoverished as those who will not acknowledge the blessings in their lives. But those who remember to be thankful for those blessings seem to attract a whole lot more to be thankful for. Just something to ponder this Thanksgiving Holiday.
Please Share. Richard Paul Evans is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books. His latest book is, THE MISTLETOE INN. You may order your copies now at Amazon, at a discount, by clicking this link. THE MISTLETOE INN