feeling grateful

by Sharon Santoni

With age I have understood the importance of feeling grateful. In these crazy and uncertain times I have got into the habit of taking a pause every now and then and simply concentrating on the many things that we can be feeling grateful for. It’s simple and very satisfying. I sit down with a piece of paper and a coffee and take the time to reflect and add things to my list. The simple fact of having said the words out loud, and committed them to paper makes it all more real.

I know that many of us have been through a difficult year. Covid has created a lot of stress and frustration, and in some cases loss of life. There have been big changes in the way we work, in our ambitions for our own lives and those of our children. The world has made a huge shift in the space of 18 months.

But the only way to make sense of it all is to keep moving forward, to focus on the good and to live kindly.

In my own family this year we lost my darling mother in England, and my wonderful father-in-law here in France. Meaning that my children lost their two remaining grandparents in the space of six months. We were devastated, but on both occasions we tried to transform our mourning into a grateful celebration of their individual lives, and all the happiness that they brought each of us over the years.

This bouquet could be read as a translation of my philosophical mood today. At a time when the garden is being put to bed for the winter, and nature has pretty much wound down. When the leaves have fallen, and many plants bear branches that look dry and uninteresting, I went looking for materials that could be used for a big celebration bouquet. Dried hydrangea heads, a pink flower whose name I don’t know, ivy bearing berries, sedum and some seed heads from the irises in my garden.

This is what I came up with. As well as having a bouquet for my home, I also got to make the dogs happy with a forage in the forest and I got the creative pleasure that I absolutely need to function properly.

So to round up the Thanksgiving theme, I wish all my American friends a wonderful celebration with their families, and I leave with my list of gratitude:

I am feeling grateful to my husband for his patience,

to my family, for their love and support

feeling grateful to my team here at MFCH for their dynamism and kindness

to our clients and readers for all your support over the past year

to the scientists who have worked so hard to find a vaccin

and finally to the many people who welcomed me during my USA trip, for their generosity and enthusiasm.

I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day if you are in the US and for the rest of us, let me know what you are feeling grateful for today.


Maria Coman November 25, 2021 - 9:05 pm

Draga Sharon,
Cat de frumos simti! In buchetul tau se vad multe sentimente, trairi fercite, mai putin fericite, iubire, amaracune, multumire, recunostinta, dorinta de viata… cate un pic din fiecare. Exact firul real al vietii!
Cele mai bune ganduri,

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:24 am

Thank you Mia, Multumesc Mia, ma bucur ca iti place buchetul. Să ai un weekend bun, cu drag, Sharon

robert November 26, 2021 - 12:18 am

Dear Sharon.

I am grateful to be able to “smell the roses”……pun intended! Very grateful for yor blog and the beautiful arrangement of dried and fresh flowers…..you are very talented. Reminds me of a fall arrangement that I saw in the entrance of Chenonceau….one of many creations by Jean=Francois Boucher Odent.

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:25 am

Dear Robert, I am more than flattered that my foraged bouquet would be compared to a creation you saw at Chenonceau! Thank you for your kind words,


Vicky from Athens November 26, 2021 - 12:59 am

Thank you, Sharon. What a magnificent bouquet that captures the beauty of this time of year. And this time of year is truly beautiful as Mother Nature prepares for a long winters nap. Like you I lost my mother this year … only 5 weeks ago. But I am so thankful for all the years we had – she was 96! I had her for more time than most have their parents. I’m thankful that my son in law’s cancer was caught at stage 1. There is much to be thankful for and my woes are so trivial!

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:27 am

Dear Vicky, Thank you for your comment, and I am sorry for the loss of your mother. How wonderful to live well to the age of 96!
Wishing you the best for you and your family

Melanie Watson Powell November 26, 2021 - 2:23 am

Dear Sharon,
What a beautiful arrangement for this time of year! I am so sorry for the losses in your family. It is always so sad to lose a family member. Truly no one will ever love you the way your mother loves you. I have many things to be grateful. My husband and I have had all of our vaccines, have remained healthy and my family -overall is healthy. We have learned we are expecting our first great-grandchild in April of next year. It is a boy and his name will be Oliver Wyatt. So, we are obviously very happy with the news and very thankful for the news and pray Oliver will arrive safe and sound.

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:28 am

Dear Melanie
What happy news! Oliver Wyatt is a fine name! We are also expecting our first grandchild at the start of 22, but unlike you we don’t know the gender, so it will be a beautiful surprise.
Wishing you a happy holiday season with your family

Brenda Chambers November 26, 2021 - 4:08 am

Thank you for the wonderful post. Yes, it has been trying times for many but we do have to stop and be thankful all year for our many blessings.

Steven November 26, 2021 - 4:12 am

I hope your recent trip to the States was a grand success, although I’m certain it was. This has been a year of transition for us. I ‘retired’ in July after 33.5 years at my firm in Atlanta. I’m learning (slowly) how not to feel compelled to race from pillar to post. It’s not a natural skill for me. My wife spearheaded a service of acknowledgment and reflection this past Sunday in our hometown (Pensacola, Florida) – a first step in an effort to right wrongs inflicted on that community 100 years ago, with continuing echoes today. Racial repression is America’s great sin. But the sky on that day was an intense sapphire blue, the ceremony was held bay front and the participants left with hope. A portend for better. You can read about it on James Fallows’ page should you have interest. A more in-depth discussion to be published in The Atlantic. Our traditions are evolving. The Thanksgiving meal today was hosted by our older daughter and her husband in their home. There were seventeen of us, some we hadn’t seen in 18 months because of Covid. Our five year old granddaughter gave the thanks, including her family (us included I assume), the food and the cat in her message. Christmas will be similar as our focus shifts from our house to a new generation and location. I am daily reminded how blessed we are, how fragile it all is and how deeply love abides. I’ll do my typical walk along the river in the morning, watch the geese fly overhead, nod to the deer as they shyly watch me stroll by and be thankful for my full heart. Would that all could know the same.

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:40 am

Dear Steven, thank you for your kind message, and thank you, my trip to the States was a privilege and a lot of fun.
I’m sure that retirement will sit well with you, because you know how to enjoy the world around you. I checked out your wife’s service in Penascola. Racial intolerance is one of the worst feelings that we encounter today, and anything that can be done to fight it is a good thing.
Wishing you a wonderful Holiday season with all of your family, including the cat!

Sherry Hawkins, Virginia,USA November 26, 2021 - 8:21 pm

Perhaps the last two years were to compel us to turn inward, recognize what matters, use our individual faiths, and rebuild character.
Despite being severely tested I have learned to recognize small blessings in plain sight….thank you for how you feed our souls.

Margaret November 26, 2021 - 4:45 am

Your small pink flower looks like Hearts A Bustin that we have in the US. Isn’t that a great name! (Euonymus Americus)

Sharon Santoni November 26, 2021 - 10:41 am

Thank you Margaret! I was sure that someone clever would help me on this! The name is perfect, as is this cute little flower which I found blooming in a roadside hedgerow.
Happy Holidays!

Marine November 26, 2021 - 12:07 pm

I’m mot zo grateful for te vaccin, the biggest mistake they ever made!
Please, please inform yourself!!!

Lorrie Orr November 26, 2021 - 6:18 pm

Dear Sharon,
I am sorry for the losses in your family this year. Such a hard time.
Today I am grateful that the sun is casting bright rays into my living room. Here in British Columbia we have had devastating floods and landslides and 6 deaths from people swept away. All road and rail links to Vancouver were broken, and the supply chain for goods and gasoline has suffered. BUT, there is an incredible spirit of hope and determination to rebuild, even among those farmers who lost livestock and homes. Their optimism inspires me to be hopeful and positive even when things don’t go well.
I’m also so grateful for my family – my husband, children, and grandchildren. We celebrate the first birthday of our youngest granddaughter this weekend. Such joy.
Wishing you joy today.

Emm November 28, 2021 - 7:35 am

Food for thought on this weekend of overeating. Thank you. It has prompted me to do a similar writing exercise, once that could well be good to do on an ongoing basis.

Mrs. Laura Susan Gideon November 29, 2021 - 2:10 pm

The good Lord has gotten me through all the rough patches, and Sharon, you are so, so right – gratitude is a huge part of healing. It’s wonderful to be grateful during the good times and is easier to do. But when life gut-punches us, gratitude improves our attitude. I am so blessed by your magazine (which I squeal over every time I get it in the mail) and I savor your blog posts. Many thanks to YOU for sharing your creativity and beauty with us!

Sherri Sanders November 29, 2021 - 7:17 pm

I am thankful to God for all He provides for us daily but mostly for Jesus Christ who came to earth to be scorned and rejected and sacrificed for the sins of all people. I am thankful also for your encouraging blog.

Fale Loki Koki January 20, 2022 - 8:51 am

A very interesting combination. These fresh flowers add charm to this dried one.

Biuro Księgowe February 15, 2022 - 12:53 pm

Interieurontwerp is een snel groeiend vakgebied met veel kansen voor mensen. Het gaat niet alleen om de esthetiek en stijl van een kamer, maar ook om hoe u deze kunt gebruiken om uw leven te verbeteren.

oven installation April 13, 2023 - 2:43 pm

That is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!


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