Disclaimer: I never claimed to be normal.
I really wanted a dog. My dad said I needed to prove I was responsible before we invested in a dog. We visited the pet store and settled on a rat as my first pet. Squeaker was all black except for a white necktie on his chest.
I poured a lot of love into this rodent. I ensured the dribbles of batter on the griddle each Saturday morning would guarantee a pancake breakfast for my companion. I tucked my t-shirt into my pants and rode my bike around the neighborhood with him riding on my shoulder or running around my waistline in my shirt.
We had many adventures during Squeaker's life. He was a good pet for a free range kid. I was heartbroken to find him motionless in the cage one morning. Dad took care of disposing of Squeaker's remains and made good on his promise to get a dog.
I was thankful for the ability to practice being an animal owner. I assume my dad thought there wouldn't be much outrage if I failed to care for the rat and it died. A cute fluffy dog is more challenging to overlook. I did a better job of caring for my dog as a result of the experience.
What were your formative experiences to shape your sense of thankfulness? Who were your early examples that molded your perspective about gratitude?
Influences may include family members, teachers, or Jimmy Stewart from It's A Wonderful Life. Some can rattle off many examples off the top of their mind. For others, examples require intentional sifting of memories to recall an example. In either case, the odds are, you're story won't involve a pet rat.
Going Further: When did you last recount this impact with those involved? What were other early experiences surrounding thankfulness? What is the most surprising memory about thankfulness?