As Thanksgiving day drew closer, a first-grade teacher gave her students an assignment: “Everyone listen up, this Thanksgiving I’d like you all to draw something you’re thankful for.” The children could not think of anything but Turkey and other traditional goodies as the topics of most pictures. Douglas made a different kind of picture, for he was a different kind of boy. He was miserable, frail and unhappy from beginning. As other children played at recess, Douglas would stand close by the teacher’s side.
One could only guess at the pain Douglas hid behind those sad eyes. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand. His image captured the imagination of his peers and they all guessed whose hand it was. “Maybe it is a farmer’s hand, because farmers raise turkeys,” said one boy. “I think it is the hand of a Police Officer, because they protect and care for us,” said another child. “It is no doubt the hand of God himself!” said many others.
The discussion went on and on, until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself. When the children had gone on to the other assignments, the teacher paused at Douglas’ desk and bent down. “Douglas, may I know whose hand you drew?” she asked kindly. The little boy looked up at her and muttered, “It’s yours’ teacher.” The teacher was completely taken by surprise. She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there. How often she said, ‘Take my hand, Douglas we will go outside and play.” Or, “Let me show you how to hold your pencil.” Or, “Let’s do this or that together.”
Finally, Douglas said, “Teacher, this Thanksgiving I am most thankful for your hand.” It was the first time she had seen Douglas smile wholeheartedly. Brushing aside a tear she spoke softly, “And this Thanksgiving I am most thankful for you, my kind boy.” A teacher takes a Hand, opens a Mind and touches a Heart.
The Douglas’s of this world may not always say thanks, but they will forever remember the hand that reaches out. Be thankful to those that have shed their light to illuminate your path.