'Tis the season for expressions of thankfulness! In my house where three children have worn me down with continual requests to decorate for Christmas, 'tis also the season for resoluteness. (I have a firm rule about Christmas decorating: I don't go there until Thanksgiving has run its course, but once we're eating leftovers, game on. Time to jingle.)
Around the dinner table as we ask about each others' days (best parts, worst parts, most surprising parts, whether anyone at lunch laughed hard enough to make milk come out of their noses), this week I've asked my girls to name things they're thankful for.
Of course, they immediately offer the standard responses: food, our family, our house. As we circle the table multiple times, however, the responses become more specific. It's good to try to exhaust your list of things you're thankful for. You realize, in your ability to go on and on, how blessed you are, how deep the gratefulness can go, how even the smallest pleasures can be magnified when you're thankful for them.
In this spirit, here is quirky list of specific things I'm thankful for today:
1) That Ugly Pies Still Taste Good. They're not pretty, that's for certain, but they'll be delicious tonight. Life is too short to worry if your pie crust isn't cooperative.
2) Hot Cocoa with a Pinch of Cayenne Pepper. Many years ago, in a former house, in a former life before kids, a former neighbor invited me over and served hot cocoa with a pinch of cayenne pepper. I don't know why that memory resurfaced recently, but I made myself a steaming mug the other evening, and it was fabulous.
3) This Tree. I took this picture days before a storm blew off most of its leaves, and I'm so glad I captured it in its flaming glory. This tree is on fire! (Bonus points for you if you read that last sentence as if it were being sung by Alicia Keys.)
4) These Shoeboxes. Last week, I gathered the shoeboxes that our church collected for Operation Christmas Child and drove them to the drop-off center. It's impossible not to have your heart swell when you think that these boxes, packed with love in Pennsylvania, will travel the globe and end up in a child's hands.
5) The Leaf-Sucking Truck. One day you rake your leaves into a pile along the roadside, and then one day they're gone. I never see the leaf-sucking truck make its rounds; I only know its presence due to the absence of leaves. This magic never ceases to delight me.
6) Thanksgiving Break. Thanksgiving week is a friendly ceasefire: I stop assigning work and students stop submitting work. We recalibrate, get caught up, and mentally prepare for the final push of classes until finals week. It's good for the soul.
7) Kids Who Call It Like It Is. Yesterday as
our oldest and youngest daughters wrestled on the floor and argued about
who was better, Joel looked at our middle child and said, "Make a case for
why you're the favorite kid today." She didn't even pause, just pointed
to her sisters and said, "Because I'm not a part of that fight." Yep, she was the day's winner.
8) Unexpected Visits from Old Friends. I received a text message yesterday from dear friends who were driving from Boston to Pittsburgh with their four kids. They were within 10 minutes of our exit, and they asked if they could stop by en route. Our house was a mess, I was in the midst of grading, the pies weren't yet baked, and groceries still needed to be bought, but NO! No, we wouldn't mind in the slightest! Please come! Please pile out of your minivan, dishelved and road-weary, and visit for an hour! I treasure how friendships, even as they change with time and location, still flourish.
9) Middle School Morning Announcements. I was listening to a particularly good 80's playlist on Pandora yesterday evening while baking pies, and my oldest daughter came into the kitchen in the middle of A Ha's Take On Me. She immediately sang along, but then quickly broke off to ask, "Mom, how do you know this song?"
How do I know this song? Child, in your eleven years of life, have you not picked up my impressive taste in music? The better question is how do you know this song?
Turns out, her middle school plays it every morning during announcements. I love her school even more.
10) Play-Doh Turkeys. Sometimes, when you ask kids to make a turkey with Play-Doh, they'll make a turkey like this:
And other times, it'll be a turkey like this:
Even Play-Doh art mimics life, I guess.
11) Soul Stability. Last week, I greeted a man at church. He's endured family challenges and health problems, but when I asked how he was doing, he replied, "It is well." It is well. Praise God that we can say it is well in the face of any circumstance. Jesus gives us stability in our souls, even if the world around us is in turmoil.
And that is something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! May it be well with your souls today!