What I am offering here tonight is hardly original. In fact, I thought twice about this topic, since it seems we are always looking for the unique, the one that stands out. But there is much to be said for the ordinary and these days I find myself much more interested in our commonality than in what sets us apart. Sure, I love unique art and beautiful writing that opens our eyes and inspires. But, I also love that feeling of belonging, of being a part of a collective gathering of minds or hearts, like a major happening such as the Presidential election or maybe the Olympics, or big holidays. Which is why I am thinking turkey (even though I am a vegetarian) and about what I have to be thankful for. I think all of us have been assigned an essay like this at least 13 times in the course of growing up. I know I have and I am sure I have given thanks more than once for my flower-power, banana seat sting-ray bike in fifth grade, or for LBJ -my childhood canary, or given thanks in the seventies, that my brother-in-law had made it back from Vietnam. And I have sent many a prayer of thanks heavenward in the time since then, but it has been a long, long time since I have actually written it down.
But this is an exercise that I need to do right about now, to keep the blues at bay. Not just because it is another holiday and any holiday post- divorce is difficult. I need to do this because there are major worries presenting, big worries, like finding a home and employment, that are interfering with my gratitude and I just can't let that happen.
So with the inspiration of canned pumpkin, marshmallows and yams in full view, let's see how the worries hold up under the weight of these Thank-Yous.
- Today, right this minute I am thankful that my family is warm and fed and that we are together.
- I am thankful for my granddaughter who has shown me the redeeming qualities of Elmo; I am sorry I misjudged him.
- I am thankful for the mess that my daughters leave all over the house, shoes here- there-everywhere, make-up all over the sink and Pepsi cans on every table. Ordinarily, I am not thankful for this, but then I try to picture my life without this clutter, and it is orderly, but oh, it is no where near as colorful! So I ask that every time from now on, when I bend to pick up a wet towel, or gum wrapper or lonely sock, that I am reminded how my heart soars in the company of these radiant, funny beings and how gathering up bras and magazines and Chapstick is a small price to pay for this. This is truly soulful work, I mean this, I do, and I thank God for the privilege.
- I am ever so thankful that at 54, I am still someone's little girl. My parents are 86 and 87 and my mom still likes to bring me a cup of tea and needs to know that I get home safely. My dad, worries that I don't sleep. He loses sleep over my not sleeping, my daddy does. And sometimes he says the cutest things, which is always surprising because he is an old Marine, and cute isn't in his vocabulary. But cute he can be, like when he tries to fit himself in a slender, straight-back dining chair. Evaluating the tight squeeze, he says softly, " There's too much Albert and not enough chair." How I will miss hearing him say things like this.
- I am also thankful for the tiny porcelain heart- shaped box that sits on my dresser. In it is a snippet of fur from both my 16 year old sweet dachshund, Sally and loyal 17 year old cock-a -poo, Chloe. Both dogs died less than 2 months ago. When my husband first left, and the world as I knew it was forever altered, there were nights when I thought I would surely die of loneliness, my daughters all out living their lives on those moments, and me alone in the house I shared with my him for almost three decades. That home echoed with the cruelty of recent times; it haunted me with happier moments. The dogs themselves were baffled and missed him too. Together we huddled on the couch, sometimes curled in a ball on the bathroom floor, and they tried as best they could to comfort - their presence all they could offer. They would look at me, not the wallpaper, not the floor, but at me, as if to reassure that someone saw me, and that I was not forgotten. Their ears were often wet from my tears. They were two of the best friends I have ever had, and I am thankful for the time I had with them.
- Now might be a good time to talk about fun things to be thankful for and the list is really never-ending isn't it? Flip- top cans, and PAM, soft, fuzzy blankets, microwaveable neck wraps and incense and the convenience of shredded cheese. I am thankful for candles and the flicker of hope that they give, and Tootsie Pops because I like to chomp through them in 2 minutes flat. I am thankful for the moon and for the few kisses I've had under its watchful eye and when dreams allow, the kisses I might have one day again. I'm thankful for YouTube and the company it keeps me when worries cause me to forget my gratitude and have me up at 3:00 AM. What would I do if I couldn't summon up Carol King and James Taylor and Jackson Browne looking just like they did back in '73?
But there will be no YouTubing tonight, even though it is late, because tonight, I am going to sleep and I am going to count my endless blessings to get there. Tonight I might even have sweet dreams, because gratitude is a heavy trip that can lighten any load, and tonight I am thankful that I remembered.