We used to live in a house 25 miles east of Paradise. Yes, still Paradise, but worlds away from here for all kinds of reasons. It was about as beautiful as the suburbs could be in a place that should still be a desert covered with scrubby bushes and hillsides speckled with strangely rounded boulders instead of houses and neighborhood malls. We were fortunate enough to happen upon this house at a time in our lives when we needed more space: my two older boys were just entering their adolescence, our youngest was still not one, and my mom was getting pretty tired of her life and wanted a change. Only one family had lived in this house before us — a family of three. The man had died 10 years earlier, so the woman had stayed until she could no longer care for herself and was moved to a care facility somewhere near her daughter on the East Coast. For the longest time, the house still felt as if it belonged to her. Her child had grown up in the house, and they had lived there for almost 50 years.
One of the things I loved about the house was the view. Nearly every window provided a pleasant treescape, or views of distant hills that, if you woke up early enough, afforded a gorgeous sunrise. And I was up early quite a bit in those days, because 6-month-old babies do wake up earlier than most of us want them to.
As my life became more crowded with the kinds of things we all grapple with, I found myself feeling put upon, and frazzled. At times, I swore that I could feel the person I was supposed to be sinking farther and farther away, as if drowning. Before bed each night most often after everyone else had long since retired, I’d quietly venture out into the yard and look into the dark sky to say my penance for spending so much of my day being dissatisfied with what I had.
I knew there had to be something up there willing to hear me list all the things I acknowledged I was thankful for — because I didn’t want to give the wrong impression. “I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a job, I have a nice house, we’re all healthy, we have food…” the litany went each night, attempting to seal in what I was thankful for.
Although I remember this with tiny shards of sadness, I reluctantly drag it to the surface as a sort of measuring stick. So much is different now. Time has a way of doing that. But time isn’t enough. Many other factors must be considered to acknowledge what I am truly grateful for without it being an apology to the night sky. I realize that if I hadn’t lived those days, I would be less than who I am now. It all adds up. So this is my contribution. Thanks to Dave for passing on the opportunity to convey my gratitude, although perhaps not as eloquently expressed as his.
So if you are someone who finds your cup a bit empty instead of full, take the time to make your own list. And if you’re someone who likes to create two lists — one with plusses, and one with minuses, I guarantee you’ll never get to the minus side of things if you always start with the plusses. Come on. Pay it forward. Do it now. There. I nodded in your direction.
I have gratitude for my family — but specifically my boys.
Mmmm….b-o-y-z. I love my men, men, men, men…because they are just flat out different. Refreshingly not like me. They just don’t get caught up in all the total crap that females do. They make life so much easier unless I want a reason to get worked up, and then they’re really good at being the reason I get worked up — because they’re not like me. You get that, right?
I’m thankful — so very thankful for the relationship that the MoH and the RT have.
They truly like one another. The MoH still gets warm & fuzzy attention from the RT who is very comfortable with hug & love stuff. The MoH and I must have done some pretty effective modeling in our spare time. I didn’t have a relationship with a father, and didn’t get to observe my brother having one, either, so I’m curious about the whole Dad thing. Curious — which is different than wanting, needing, or wishing. Or hoping. And put a cork in the guilt while you’re reading this, Mom because that’s a complete waste of time. Ahem…moving right along…
Though my intensity would rival that of a laser, I’m grateful for my ability to notice small things
that bring me to a screeching halt long enough to breathe and wonder about nothing in particular —
— like the way sun comes in to brighten up the house after so many days of grey.
Things sparkle, shine, and amazing shadows emerge for just a minute or two, and then are gone.
Somebody has to notice those things and share them with others, right? So I guess my tiny digital camera gets the nod as well. Now if I could only figure out the macro thing, I’d be set.
I’m grateful for that old Betty Crocker cookbook and a mom who shoved a cast iron skillet in my hand and said, “Make dinner for the family,” when I was still pretty young. I never cease to find pleasure in thinking about food, cooking food, serving food, and eating food. Oh — and the people who eat my food. Mmmmm…..food. I absolutely love it — and them for enjoying it.
So that leads to gratitude for my developing relationship with my scale, and the respect I have for my control or lack of control, which can be pretty powerful. Boy that’s a constant argument I have with myself. To have more, or not to have more…simply more…More tasty is working better than just more…Having a brain that processes this factors in here somewhere.
And I’m grateful for people like this who make me smile on my less than exciting walks,
because I just wonder, “What were they thinking?” and then have to be even more grateful that I could never be as hateful as the person who then threw something corrosive on her driveway and ruined the prettiness she was so proud of, and not wanting people to spoil with their “turning around in her driveway” tires.
And I would be even more grateful if people like that didn’t exist. But that’s asking too much, right? Because we’re all supposed to be thankful we aren’t them. But cockroaches are small enough to step on, so someone could have figured out how to rid us of the mean folk.
In my next life, I would like to hope and wish to be grateful for patience. If there’s a line for that somewhere, help me make sure I get in it.