gosh darn grateful
the arithmetic of november is a fine tally indeed. it’s the month where we begin to add up all the wonders of our year, the graces large and small.
the ones that make our hearts go whoosh, as if niagara falls (see delicious cupcake above), and the itty-bitty whispers of holy hallelujah (as when we catch our little one, say, giving us a backrub, just because he sees the worry on our brow).
when you pause for just a minute, maybe long enough to grab a pen and paper, for this accounting-in-the-works, you can, if you give it half a chance, get swooshed right over, for all the goodness that’s come round.
oh, lord, i know, there is heartache plenty. there were days and nights, perhaps, when you thought you couldn’t breathe, what with all the drama in the wings. and there’ve been bedtime pillows, too, soaked with tears. and hours spent on knees, praying for holy miracles to dash away (fill in your blank).
but, here, on the brink of this national time-out for cranberries and thanks, i find myself, in slow moments, in the breaths between the thoughts, beginning to accumulate a swath of holy blessings…..
i begin with the very girl i’d spent a lifetime dreaming of, the one whose arrival woke me in the star-lit cloak of an april’s night, a night when tears and dreams-come-true came rushing, when over a phone line and millions of miles away, i heard her rustling, peeping, squeaking, in my brother’s arms, and felt my heart take flight.
oh, it aches to be so far away, but as i trace her every leap and bound, as i stockpile frequent flyer miles, i know we’ve years together down the road. we’ve tea rooms, and walks in the woods. we’ve story books, and some day, long long talks. if i’m as blessed as i hope i’ll be.
speaking of endless hours deep in conversation, there is the blessing of watching my 16-year-old turn to his beloved uncle david, the one who once took him from dawn till way past dusk on the el (that’s chicago’s elevated train), with no destination other than adventure, and who over the years has opened windows for him all around, from thelonious monk to qi gong, from homer to sartre to music made from water dripping in a pot.
be still, my most humbled heart.
i count, too, the blessing of my cottage garden, the stubby little tree, with arms outstretched, who grows just beyond my window.
i count the bluestone path, the one that meanders, slows me in the way of ancient zen walks where each stone is placed to accentuate the pause. and so it is with my wiggly, sort-of-wobbly bluestones. more accident than art, but still, the effect is the same, you move slowly through my meandering garden, the one where blueberries and roses ramble side-by-side.
and what of the fact that i live in a creaky old house, a house that over the years we’ve nipped and tucked, stitched with windowseats and bookshelves in nearly every single room (save the bathroom, but hmm, there’s a thought)…
and what of my holy blessed friends who pull up here to the table, nearly every week, or only once a season? oh, thank God for them, for they’re among the closest to my heart, here in a world where we build bridges through words and shared story, where the village we carve is less one of geography and more one of common heartbeat.
and i’d be missing a whole chunk of my life if i didn’t say i’m thankful, so thankful, for the job i do most days (paid or not so very much). the one where i ask a zillion questions, poke around in places others rarely get to see, then sit before a keyboard and let the story spin. just this year, i’ve spent the night with a saint in a hospital kitchen, i’ve watched another genuflect on a city sidewalk to save an injured bird. i’ve worked with editors and writers who’ve leapt to my rescue and stood firm behind me, and i’ve cried hard and long as i watched some of the very best exit the newsroom, told to leave for good, after packing lifetimes into cardboard boxes.
before i move onto little graces–the wren who sang his heart out, the over-watered tree that didn’t die (yet), the cloudy days that brought me comfort–let me sweep my arms round the boys who put meaning to my days.
the tall one who lets me in his heart, through long and winding hours of seamless conversation, and nothin’-else-like-’em belly-bustin’ laughs, sitting side-by-side (often, these days, that would be as i ride shotgun and he’s the one behind the wheel, steering down the lane, er, oops, that was a stop sign, honey…).
and the little one, the one who takes my breath away each and every time i glimpse his tender side, the one stoked by his papa, yes indeed, and whenever i catch him, nearly always, leading with his heart.
there’s my mama to thank, too, for making every tuesday and thursday work like clockwork, even when i’m far away. and, on both those harried nights, for getting dinner to the table, and not just any dinner either, grammy dinner–stews and meatloafs, potatoes mashed, and peas frozen in a pouch, comfort foods, foods like mama used to make. oh, that’s right, she is my mama and she is, after all these years, still making weeknight dinners. all that’s left for me to do, those achy tired nights, is scrub the pots and pans, and sometimes she does even that.
oh, there’s more and more, the ones i love around the continent, from jersey shore to sunny california, from maine to arizona, with stops along the way.
there’s the bones that hold me up, at least for now. a word i learn that takes my breath away. an idea that’s new and even better.
i thank God for pillowcases crisp, and socks that don’t have holes. for books on tape that hold me rapt. and ones with pages, too. the ones i race to bed to read, but then, dag nab, i cannot stay awake.
i thank God for pomegranates and popcorn. for old jeans all full of holes, and the leggings worn beneath them, the ones that keep me from being charged with indecent exposure.
i thank God for gloomy moods that lift, and i’m sorrys from the heart. i thank God for friends who make me laugh so hard i fear i’ll, well, you catch that drift.
i thank God for the sky at dawn, and the quiet of the house at night, when all there is is my breathing and the tick-tock-tick of the old fine clock.
i could go on and on in this holy sacred litany of thanks. there is much, especially for those of us who take the time to add it up, as if a census of the heart.
my forms are filled, and i’ve only just begun.
for all of this and so much more, dear holy God, i thank you and i thank you.
all right, you blessed souls in all the chairs, pull in close and let it pour, the thanks with which you fill your heart….
giving thanks here for penguin costumes; green flipper slippers; belly laughs at a 3 am diaper change; gazing out through the crib slats sometime after 7am although she has been up – and self entertaining – for many minutes at least, letting us slowly wipe sleep from our eyes; quiet in the apartment; open mouth kisses; teething toys; 4pm dusk at prouts neck, maine; wake-up time in bed, after the diaper is changed, before the rice cereal and veggie du jour are served; spoons licked clean; coal dark eyes; for aunts and grandmothers; great-grandmothers who go before us, leading the way, living examples of strength and tenderness, having overcome their uncertainties and answered in their way the ceaseless questions of parenthood; faith that endures; doors that open when others have closed; a home to return to at the end of the day; family to guide us when we feel lost on our way; time to relax, to gather our thoughts, to let loose and play.
…for trips to beloved family and old home, for planes that take us there quickly, for beautiful nieces who grow up and get married, for a rackety old house that mostly keeps the animals out, for the life of a beloved sister who left us all too soon, for the crazy miraculous technology that is a cochlear implant, for tea with a little girl dressed in flouncy crunching taffeta, for a thoughtful sensitive son who loves God and actually read, and loved, the last book I recommended to him, for a sweet funny partner, for the best in-laws possible on this earth, for buttery yellow and red leaves all over the ground, for chocolate chip cookies!, for wide bright desert sky and for midwestern eeyore sky, for washing machines, for suitcases with wheels, for my dog, for cupcake babies, and so, so much more but gotta go now…..
This is good! For the past few months, most of my thoughts automatically take a left turn toward negativity and frustration. That pretend gratitude journal in my brain was buried under stress and anxiety long ago. I’m more than happy to embrace the spirit of this week and list what I’m most thankful for. First would have to be my main guy, my husband, who stands next to me and offers support and unconditional love at every turn. He is the life preserver that keeps afloat in every storm. I’m thankful for my sons, too, and their wives/fiance. My boys, grown men, know how to bring me back down to earth when I start to spiral. Beyond that, I’m thankful for science. After a few years of struggle with infertility, my second son assures me the embroyos, maybe my grandbabies, are dividing as they should in the petri dish! Can you imagine the miracle that will be if it works out! I’m very grateful to the staff at the nursing home where my mom is. Nursing homes get a bad rap these days, and some probably deserve it. My mom is blessed to be with so many sincere, compassionate, and loving people who do their best to make her comfortable and happy every day. I never knew such loving people existed! I’m thankful for my neighbors. We share smiles and waves every time any of us are out of the house. There’s lots of security in the smiling face of someone who lives 5 homes to the south! And, of course, I’m thankful for the regular things, a roof over my head, heat in my home, food on my table, and the turkey in the freezer. I’m thankful for computers and the ability to communicate so easily with others. And, finally, I’m thankful for those who I see here at this special table. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
I am thankful for you.
I woke early today sat in the awareness that all my children are home and asleep, peaceful and loved. Possibilities abound for the future, so on this Thanksgiving Day that is what I will carry in my heart. Blessings all round and profound thanks for the sharing and caring you all bring when you pull up a chair. There are times the reflections inform my day and make all the difference. Happy Thanksgiving.
indeed bless you each and every one, and anyone who stops by here today. may all the hubbub in all your kitchens and dining rooms bring you joy–and not too much wincing. xoxoxoxox
the list of people (like you) and life’s unexpected safety nets that bless and keep me is long. so grateful that i could give you and yours a big squeeze the other day. your inspired idea for a walk down our good old road was a sacred thing. here’s to growing and tending joy in the coming year.