Ben Stein on giving the gift of gratitude

Ben Stein on the gift of gratitude 01:43

Nowhere on this week's calendar is there a requirement that you thank your parents for all they've done for you, which you should ANYWAY, says our contributor Ben Stein:

Recently, I sat at lunch with two young women who were in a drug treatment facility.

They rattled off their horror stories about their drug use; about how they disappeared from home for weeks or months at a time; about how their parents could not sleep at night for years worrying about them; about how their parents showed infinite love and care for them year after year.

They talked about what fabulous parents they had and how sorry they were for what they put their parents through.

I finally asked them, "Do you ever thank them?"

They hesitated a bit, and said they were sure they had thanked them sometime.

This got me to thinking. Do we, even if we might be adults who are not drug addicts, think back to what our parents have done for us?

Do we think of how our parents basically are our servants, and we their masters, for decades, and how rarely we show them any gratitude?

I often refer back to my own little life, when I think of how my father and mother scrimped and saved to get through the Great Depression, knew real economic uncertainty, and yet I thought nothing of living like a playboy once I got into college.

How that must have torn them up.

I often think of my wonderful wife's father, who fought hand-to-hand against the Nazi SS in World War II, and then many years later in rice paddies up to his neck in Vietnam, and she never thanked him until I told her it was a moral imperative.

Wake the heck up if you are blessed enough to have living parents who treated you decently!

They sacrificed more for you than you could ever understand, until you are parents.

Wake up and give your parents and yourselves a truly great gift: the gift of gratitude, expressed loudly and with real sincerity for the rest of your lives.

There is nothing they will like better, not ever.

And when they are gone, you will be glad you did it for the rest of your life.