Melinda had the blues. For two days the thirteen-year-old walked around eyes on the floor, and shoulders hunched. Her mother, Beatrice, didn’t know what else to say or do. At the end of the third day, Melinda again shut herself in her room after school.
As Christopher walked in from work, he found a frustrated Beatrice. He handed his wife a half-dozen roses he had picked up along with the milk and cheese she had asked, and watched her expression relax; then a smile; then a sigh.
“I don’t know what to do about Melinda…” and she poured out her worries over fresh coffee.
“Let me have a talk with her,” her husband said after the last sip. And plucking one of the roses from the bunch, made his way upstairs.
“Good luck…” called Beatrice after him.
“For me?!” said the teary teenager with a coy smile.
Christopher settled down on the edge of Melinda’s bed and asked about her, how she was feeling, what was bothering her.
As Melinda twirled the rose in her hands, she enumerated the usual reasons–or lack of them. It had begun with her best friend saying some nasty thing at school, and then Mom who had little time for her… and the list went on.
At these moments, he knew how important it was to let his girl talk. Mom was the same. He also knew this was one of those times when he must push everything else out of his mind and listen with his ears and his heart. He did. And she felt it.
After 20 minutes she was feeling better.
Now it was Dad’s turn.
“Sweetie”, he began, “You are a sensible girl and you have reasons to feel down. But, the thing is that when we are overwhelmed by life’s negativities, we tend to forget about the good things that are actually happening to us.”
Dad had listened for a long time, so now she listened. She loved him very much.
“Have you ever heard of the Alphabet of Gratitude?”
Melinda shook her head.
“Here’s how it works. For each of the letters of the Alphabet, we find a corresponding good thing that is happening to us. Some of the letters can be challenging but that is what makes this game interesting. So, how about we give it a try?
“A – How about the A’s you got at school this semester. Seems to me you only got a couple of B’s but all the rest were A’s. Did your whole class have the same result?
“No, Dad! I had the most A’s…”
“Awesome!” commented Christopher. “That is great and makes me proud. I have a smart, diligent daughter.”
B – Beatrice for Mom... She is a good mother isn’t she?
Melinda put her head down…
“Yes…Sometimes she gets on my nerves…But she is caring, and smart and does cook great meals… all in all she is a really good mom.”
“Did you know”, said Christopher, “that some children don’t even have mothers? ….
“Yes” agreed Melinda, “Mom is the best mom I could wish for…She even puts up with my bad moods.”
“C – our Creator. Christopher then went on to describe all the great things our Creator has given us. Not only this beautiful world with trees, waterfalls, mountains and oceans, but He also made us and gave us a soul and body, talents and intelligence to enjoy it all. “
“D – Dessert. Now, your mother is a great cook but when it comes to her desserts…Wow!
“Yes,” Melinda agreed, “her desserts are the best!”
“She is making Crème Brulee tonight!
“And there, again, how many children go hungry these days. But we have your Mom and Crème Brulee.”
“E – How would life be without Eliot?
That was the name of their funny dog.
“O, Dad, said Melinda, Eliot is a riot!
“And did you notice, Sweetie, how happy he is every day? I am always amazed how Eliot greets me when I come back from work. It is as if he had not seen me for a month. He jumps up and down, wants to lick me…Attitude is everything, it so helps in life. ”
“F – Father Finn. I think we are pretty lucky to have him for our Pastor don’t you agree? Imagine if we still had Father Brock? He was irritable… and his sermons…But Father Finn is really good, and so kind in Confession…
By letter “I” Melinda was joining in, “I…for…ICE-CREAM! I loooove ice-cream!"
They played for a while, now giggling, laughing and commenting.
By letter “Q” Melinda put her hand on her father’s arm,
“Okay Dad, I see I’ve been really stupid and I’m sorry. I promise I will make a better effort and remember all the good things happening to me and in my life. When you think about it, it is impressive how the good things actually outdo the bad things.
“Did you enjoy our time together?” Her father asked, “Isn’t the Alphabet of Gratitude a neat trick?”
Melinda was all smiles now.
“It’s a real trick, Dad, I’ll always use it! One correction though, she said hugging his neck…”D” should have been for “DAD,” I have the BEST!”
As father and daughter walked into the kitchen, Melinda gave her mother a big hug from behind. Beatrice looked at her husband, wide-eyed, as if she was looking at a first-class miracle worker.
Of course, half of the solution to Melinda’s blues was the time her father spent with her. But the other half was the Alphabet of Gratitude for it gave Melinda a mind-tool, a concrete formula to help her next time she felt low.
By Antonio FragelliIllustrations by A.F.Phillips
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