Grateful Thankful, Thankful Grateful

A few years back, I got into it with a friend over the difference between grateful and thankful.  We were on vacation together and I’d said, in passing, I was grateful to be there.

“You mean ‘thankful’,” she corrected.

“No, I mean ‘grateful’.

“But you’re wrong.  You’re thankful.  Being grateful is like groveling.  Who uses that word?  Ick.”

It had started out innocent enough, as these things often do, and morphed into one of those diabolical pissing matches you’d love to get out of, but there you are, not giving an inch.  Because you can’t.  I kid you not, this went on for a week.  We looked up proper definitions in both English and French dictionaries and on-line.  Everywhere we went she would quiz the waiter / bartender / shopkeeper, “what’s the difference between thankful and grateful?”

I finally gave up and let her think she won.  I couldn’t take it anymore.

I remained grateful.


I was grateful recently to receive the following (unexpected) items in the much-underrated snail mail.  Who doesn’t like to get cool mail?!

First, there was the book FOLLOWING ATTICUS from MacDougal Street Baby, with this beauty, which is now framed aside our family photos on a bookshelf in the living room.  I love the colors, the perfect imperfections, the movement.  I call it my shy sunflower.

And not long after, there was this itty-bitty (one inch??) exact clay replica of my dog Lucy Lou, who passed away back in June, from our Lyra.  Right down to her 3 legs, her pale blue eyes, and her pink-spotted nose.  This beauty is safe inside a glass curio cabinet in my bedroom.

I’m grateful AND thankful, I am.  Are these gifts spectacular or what?

20 thoughts on “Grateful Thankful, Thankful Grateful

  1. jess

    Tom of Tom and Atticus fame is a friend of mine (New Hampshire writers, we hang together, you know) – he’s awesome and kind and funny, and totally amazed by his current publicity jag.

    And I have the perfect book recommendation for you and I will send you the ARC I have of the novel……oh…crap. No snail mail address. Oh well. 🙂 (send it! send it!)

    Finally, speaking of gratitude – a new book contract dropped into my lap for something I was going to have to write anyway and now I will get paid for the work. Life is good. Will catch up soon, I promise.

  2. erikamarks

    What treasures! I’m getting goosebumps, and I wasn’t even the recipient!

    (For the record, I use the words thankful and grateful interchangeably.)

  3. lizisilver

    I don’t think grateful is groveling at all. How can gratitude ever be negative?
    Such great gifts. What’s in the air? Mailbox surprises abound!

  4. macdougalstreetbaby

    I love that doggie! What a talent that Lyra is.
    Also, I just want to point out that you are clearly goodness personified. We all know the expression, “you reap what you sow.” You are a friend for so many. It only makes sense you receive something in exchange.

  5. Downith

    Your story reminded me of a Scrabble game in Mexico at least 15 years ago. I created the word “dun” which of course WE all know is a brownish colour. We had no dictionary and my friend hallenged me. The other girls on the trip all sided with her. In desperation I turned to a man at the next table and asked him if he’d ever heard of the word.

    “Yeah, as in ‘I dun you’.”

    But I’m thankful for my ability to put these things behind me . . .

    That dog is SO cute!

    And of course you deserve these gifts.

  6. Averil Dean

    I love this circle of friends. I mean, good grief. No one in my real life would ever, EVER in one million years do something this thoughtful.

    You guys keep me writing, if only to keep my place in the circle.

    (Like Erika, I use the words interchangibly. I think your friend was full of shit.)

    1. Teri

      “to keep my place in the circle” is right. And let’s not forget the writing panel we will all be on one day, explaining how this all worked so well.

  7. Lyra

    Ha! There’s little Lucy!

    I am grateful and thankful for all of you. Every day.

    (And you can be certain, I’m pulling out the OED monster that is all things when I get home.)

  8. Laura Maylene

    What beautiful gifts! The shy sunflower is just gorgeous, and the dog is in an entire class of her own. The pink-spotted nose!

    I’m with you on “grateful.” The world would be a better place with more feelings (and expression) of gratitude. I find it very interesting that your friend equates gratitude with groveling.

    1. Teri

      The nose!! How about that nose. And the blue color of the eyes is perfection. She done good. 🙂

      The grateful/thankful discussion is (and was) both enlightening and odd. For example, I’m grateful to my husband for working a paying job so I can focus solely on this writing business. I’m thankful the new puppy is house-trained. I didn’t need someone to explain this to me.

      And by the way, we were on vacation in FRANCE. And I was damned-straight grateful to be there. Period.

  9. amyg

    what a group we got. right? (again, i’m behind and don’t know how it happened).

    this all makes me that much more excited about chicago.

    see you in less than a month!

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