William Stidger's Thanksgiving
Norman Vincent Peale told about a man by the name of William Stidger who was on the verge of a nervious breakdown. The man had been a very vital, dynamic person; but he had become an empty shell of his old self. A friend suggested the way for him to avoid further breakdown and to be healed was by the therapy of thanksgiving and by the practice of what is called "the attitude of graditude." His friend advised Stidger to sit down and to make a list of all the people who had helped him through the years. Then he was to fill his mind with thankfulness for all these and for all they had done for him. His friend asked if he had ever thanked anybody. "No," he said , "I never really made much stress on that."
Next, his friend advised him to think of someone who especially had blessed his life and to write that peson a letter thanking him or her. He thought of a school teacher, who was now a ver old lady. Stidger sat down and wrote the teacher a letter telling her that he remembered the inspiration she had given him, how he had never forgotten her across the years, and how much he loved her. A few days later he received a letter written in a trembling hand. Using his boyhood name, it said, "Dear Willie: When I think back over all the children I have taught in my lifetime, you are the only one who ever wrote to thank me for what I did as a teacher. You have made me so happy. I have read your letter through my tears. I have it by my bedside and I read it every night. I shall cherish your letter until the day I die."
This did so much for him that he thought of someone else to write and then someone else and before he was through, had written five hundred unexpected letters of thanks. the therapy of thanksgiving had much to do with curing him of his depression. He was so grateful for every new day, and he lived it to the fullest.
Jerry Songer, "`Tis the Season to Be Thankful," Proclaim, (Nashville: Sunday School Board, Oct-Dec, 1996) 35