November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Periodically I’ve sought to cultivate gratitude by making daily lists of things to be thankful for. To make a practice of counting my blessings. I start with the best of intentions, and eventually fall out of the habit. And how easy it is to look around and unconsciously count reasons for discontent.

Each day of the month of November, my friend Amy has been posting something for which she is thankful. Can I just say how refreshing this has been? Facebook frequently becomes so rampant with complaints, questionable and controversial political or ideological statements, and (at least in my circles) details of parenting frustrations and bliss that I can hardly stand it, and wonder why I continue to log in and scroll through. Amy’s posts have made me stop and feel glad for at least a few seconds of each day. (Thanks, Amy – I’m thankful for you and your November postings!)

I could give you a long list of things I wish I had, things I wish I’d done differently, things I feel I rather deserve after working my bum off throughout college . . . and high school . . . and middle school . . . heck, even elementary. Life does not seem fair at times and it isn’t. But then, there are people suffering from much greater injustices than mine, and there is much that I have and perceive as “normal” that is really a privilege. So. This is the day before Thanksgiving, and I am not home with family, and I am not hosting anyone, and I am not following around darling babies wearing booties I made for them. But I can be glad, and grateful.

And here are some of the reasons:

1. I have wonderful family members who love each other. I speak to all of them at least once a week. With my mother, almost daily. And all of them put up with my big ideas, my joyous hopes, my disappointments, my ramblings that dissolve into tears. What a fortunate thing it is to have a father who lets you cry in front of him, a mother who counsels you through despair and encourages your dreams, a sister who gets excited about various projects and ideas and often jumps in, a brother who can fix anything and doesn’t mind just talking when you’re lonely, and another brother who is so happy to hear your voice he just has to keep telling you how much he likes having you as his sister.

2. My sweet dog. I can’t tell you how many times I am stroking her soft ears and looking at her face and thinking what a good girl she is, and how much she has gone through with me. She is my constant friend. She goes where I go. She runs with me. She sits close to me on dark nights. I am so glad I didn’t listen to everyone who said it wasn’t wise to get a dog when you were in graduate school and you weren’t settled. Especially a big dog. This dog was meant to be mine, this happy, triangle-eyed, tennis-ball-obsessed golden retriever.

3. New things to learn. Thank you to all the people who have encouraged me to look at the world with curiosity, and to try out what it had to offer, and even to look beyond what was to see the possibilities of what could be.

4. Good food! And the people who are dedicated to it. Farmers, chefs, single guys and girls in apartments, dads and moms feeding little ones. Those working at food banks, soup kitchens, and community gardens. This national excitement about food is, I think, about to significantly change our society. I can feel it. I believe in it.

5. Nonprofits. Isn’t it great that there are places that can employ us to do good things?

6. Horses. They’re just beautiful. And I get to visit them, handle them, appreciate them almost every day.

7. My friends! Did I really wait till Number 7 to think of this? How lucky I have been to have gathered dear friends almost every place that I have lived, and how lucky that many of them have kept in touch, despite the different directions our lives have taken. I appreciate you guys! Thanks for sharing your lives with me. (And especially thanks to Amanda and Tyler and Tyler’s family this Thanksgiving, who are inviting me into their circle so I won’t be alone on this day of feasting.)

8. Co-workers that I like and get along with. This can’t be overlooked! I find it makes such a difference in daily life.

9. Clothes to wear. Kinda cute ones, even. It seems silly, but it isn’t.

10. Poetry & art. Keep spinning those words, writers. Keep snapping those stunning photos, photographers. Keep painting and stitching and scrapbooking and doing whatever you all do to make something expressive and gorgeous for those who know you, and those who are lucky enough to discover you.

11. And finally, most importantly, my faith. I know it isn’t something everyone will share, and I wouldn’t presume to make anyone feel they ought to. Belief in anything is so personal, and everyone must work out what they believe in their own time and in their own way. But I can’t help mentioning how glad I am for grace, and for a God whose primary purpose is to love us and teach us to love each other.

So then. Thank you, world. It feels now like the natural and right thing to do is help give other people reason to be thankful. Doesn’t it?

Feast well, friends. Love even better.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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