The Boy, the Birthday and the Banana – A Gratitude Story

About 4 minutes to read

I was reminded recently of a powerful and simple truth about gratitude and I would like to share a gratitude story with you.

The Boy

This gratitude story begins with a boy, let me tell you him.  He is my five-year-old neighbour Noah.  I have known him since he was six months old and it’s been an absolute joy to accompany him on his life journey so far.  I’ve previously written about some of the lessons I’ve learnt from him and you can read those posts Noah 1  Noah 2 here to learn why he’s such a special little guy.

The Birthday

It was a freezing evening when the doorbell rang and I asked the visitor to identify themselves through the door.  Noah’s mom informed me that he was ringing my bell wanting to talk with me.  Upon opening the door, I saw the little guy standing there in a thin T-Shirt and Sweatpants.  “My Boy!  Aren’t you cold?” I exclaimed!  Sauntering casually inside, he informed me that for him the weather was “warm enough” so I shouldn’t worry.


As is common with little children who have a message to share, a torrent of words tumbled forth from him.  “I would like to invite you for coffee and cake on my birthday.  It’s next Thursday,” he said.  “No Noah, it’s this Sunday” his mom corrected him.  “Yes, on Sunday you must come at 3 o’clock it’s my birthday!”  I spent a few moments making a big fuss about the upcoming birthday before he charged out the door and dashed across the road to invite other neighbours.

Noah has developed into a very personable little guy who loves spending time with others, but can also happily play alone.  He can have long rambling conversations with you about the fantasy worlds he inhabits or discuss the latest game he’s playing or Lego he’s building.  Language is important to him and he has learnt three languages fluently in his short life, those being Dutch, Finnish, and German.  Vacationing in northern Europe with his parents last summer, he informed them that he wants to learn English so that he could better communicate with the children he met on his travels.  As a result, I’ve been trying to talk English with him more regularly and we decided to buy him some English flashcards for his birthday that would accompany the Basic English learning book we gave him for Christmas.

I met with Noah’s mom for lunch a few days before his birthday and discussed his birthday gift with her.  Sweetie and I wondered if we shouldn’t get him additional gifts to “pep up” the package but she assured me that he did not need anything else and that what we had bought for him was sufficient.  I laughed and said, “OK, then we will give him a banana” and this idea amused us both greatly.  That evening I relayed the conversation to Sweetie, reaching the point where Noah’s mom said our gift was sufficient and she immediately said, “OK, then let’s give him a banana!”

I mean really what’s with all the mad, banana fixated women?!

So, we were out and about on Saturday and came across a really cute toothbrush set of a Meerkat that hangs from the wall which incidentally goes by the name of Noah.  We thought this would be a perfect addition to the gift set as we would be caring for his mental, dental, and physical strength.  Truly, every parent should wish to have such considerate neighbours as Sweetie and I.

The Banana

At the appointed time, Sweetie went next door and I would follow a few moments later.  We wrapped up the three gifts separately but instead of wrapping the bananas, simply wrote “Happy Birthday” on the skin.  Sweetie took this gift with to present to Noah first and I was to bring the other two later.

When Noah opened the toothbrush set, he ran into the bathroom with his dad to hang it on the wall.  We were just looking at the English flashcards when other guests arrived and presented Noah with wishes and gifts.  After he excitedly unwrapped their gifts and thanked them, he then asked if they wanted to see all the gifts he received.  He proudly showed them the flashcards and took them into the bathroom to where a little Meerkat toothbrush named Noah now resides.

Returning to the living room I really expected Noah to take his place at the table so the festivities could begin, instead he went over to the fruit bowl, removed the bananas and proudly presented them to our neighbours, informing them that these were also his gifts.

I have to be very honest with you, I was observing this little guy and I was really shocked.  I did not expect him to place any significance on the bananas; neither did I expect to see the deep gratitude and joy that emanated from him as he shared the fact that he loves bananas and that those were his.

His behaviour resonated with me for many reasons.

I almost felt jealous, coveting the innocence of a child, but more importantly to know and express gratitude from such a young age over the simplest things.  I realised that many of us lose our ability to be grateful for simple things and actually, some are never taught gratitude from a young age.  I felt so happy for this little guy who is being raised by his parents to appreciate the simple things in life, however I felt even happier for him, realising that he already knows and experiences the power of practicing gratitude at such a young age.

From my life experience, I know what a powerful tool and ally simple gratitude is and how it frames and forms our mind-set when we practice it regularly.  Living in gratitude builds our inner strength, resilience and changes our negative perceptions of the world.  Imagine knowing this at five years old and already applying it…

So the message today is, let’s be like little children who know the power of practicing gratitude for simple things in life.  Take a moment each day to experience wonder at the simple things that surround you (even if that comes in the form of simple, frustrating colleagues) and be deeply grateful for them, because gratitude does elevate our attitude and ultimately our altitude.

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