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Tony Rossi, Director of Communications                                        

“Gratitude is the Seed of All Good Things”

On Thanksgiving Day, we usually express gratitude for the big things: family, friends, faith,

work, etc. But chances are we overlook the ability to take a sip of water, a breath of air, or

even speak. Not Jeannie Gaffigan, though. After requiring surgery for a pear-sized tumor

wrapped around her brain stem in 2017, she endured an arduous recovery that upended

her life. Yet Jeannie came to realize that her life needed upending. The mother of five and

Christopher Award-winning wife/writing partner of comedian Jim Gaffigan joined me recently on “Christopher Closeup” to discuss her memoir “When Life Gives You Pears.”

Jeannie’s introduction to God came in her Catholic family’s home in Milwaukee, where she grew up as the eldest of nine children. She recalled the tradition of going to Mass every week: “It became ingrained in my cultural identity that that’s what you do on Sunday: you get up, fight with your siblings, go to Mass, complain on the way…and then you have a big family dinner.”

As she got older and life got more complicated, Jeannie came to trust that God was the designer of her life who would lead her down another road when things didn’t go as planned. That trust met its greatest challenge with her tumor diagnosis. She realized that she was addicted to control, and this new situation required her to humble herself. She said, “I think there’s a tendency to turn your back on God because life isn’t fair. Instead of that, I would get closer to Him…[I said], ‘I can’t handle this one, so I’m going to turn it over to You.’”

Following her surgery, which was successful, Jeannie couldn’t eat, drink, or talk for what seemed like an eternity. She recalled, “[When I was healthy], I avoided listening to my inner voice when God was talking to me. So when I was in a situation where I could not move and couldn’t eat and couldn’t do anything, I went into a forced period of cloistered monastery in my own mind. That’s when I [discovered] that...I wasn’t experiencing life and motherhood in a pure way.”

Jeannie believes God spoke to her and even gave her some new commandments, including, “Tell Jim and your children you love them every day,” “Praise their strengths and be patient with their weaknesses as you guide them,” “Teach them to serve others,” and “Remember that people are more valuable than accomplishments.” 

Jeannie noted, “They were like spiritual direction from the source of wisdom that resides in all of us, which I believe is God.” And gratitude is the main message Jeannie hopes to give people who read “When Life Gives You Pears.”

She concluded, “Live your day in gratitude because gratitude makes you kind. Gratitude is the seed of all good things…And if you have gratitude for the small things, it multiplies and radiates out and affects your whole life…Because I’m still suffering some effects of this surgery, physically, it’s easy for me right now to keep a sense of gratitude because it is still hard to swallow. It is still hard to breathe sometimes. It is still hard to speak. So I don’t have to tie a string around my finger to remind me to be grateful. But my advice to people is to put a post-it note on your laptop [that says], ‘Be grateful,’ because it’s so easy to start listening to the noise of the stresses of life and forget that you’re alive.”


For free copies of the Christopher News Note LIVING IN THANKSGIVING, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:  

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