|“Thanksgiving” by Norman Rockwell
I wrapped up my Thankful Thursdays series last week. I’ll let you decide if it was intentional or a miscalculation. (Before you decide, remember I do hold degrees in accounting and finance. On the other hand, I’d rather balance a buzzing chainsaw than our checkbook.)
The six-week countdown was a good reminder of just how much of my life falls under the blanket heading of “blessings.” But they are/were pretty general in nature, and occasionally I suspect God likes to hear some specific thank-you’s from me. So here’s just the tip of the iceberg of detailed things I’m grateful for, from A to Z. Some of these are more profound than others, but really – shouldn’t we be grateful for everything we have been given, whether it’s inconsequential or completely essential to our life?
A is for Anthony Shea. Oldest son, owner of Sadie, my beloved grandpuppy. He was our parenting guinea pig, and seems to have survived his childhood with a fairly well-adjusted outlook on life, and has become a confident, fun and capable young man.
B is for books. Starting with the Bible and winding my way through cookbooks, Dr. Seuss, my beloved literary giants, even frothy fiction on the beach. Books are one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures. The smell of bookstores and books, new or old, the way the spine creaks when you open a book for the first time. And the way a well-crafted story draws you into it, and makes you feel and think differently when you’ve finished reading it.
C is for chocolate. It is and will always be my favorite flavor in the whole wide world. Creamy milk or smooth and dark – it’s all good.
D is for David Brice. Younger son, and the child everyone would vote as most like his mama in so many ways. He too somehow survived his “wonder years” under our parentage and has a way of looking at things that is uniquely his own. Life with Brice will never, ever be dull.
E is for Eden: my birth family. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and my parents and brother all bear this name and they surround me with love, and I love ‘em back. Without them, I wouldn’t be!
F is for football. It took me a long time to be able to say I love the game, but recently on a trip home (after another frustrating defeat), the car was filled with football talk about the game and upcoming high school matchups that would lead up to the state final championship. And I realized I was in my element.
G is for gardening. There is something about watching seeds become seedlings and the smell of fresh-turned dirt in the spring that brings me in tune with the One who created me and everything I see when I’m down on hands and knees, tending to things of this earth.
H is for Highland Heights Church of Christ. My spiritual family. May God bless every one of my brothers and sisters. It’s not about the place, it’s about the people and the faith and hope we share.
I is for ice cream. Homemade is best. A hot fudge sundae can cure almost anything, and an offer to slip out for some ice cream can make an ordinary evening rather extraordinary.
J is for Jesus. He is my savior, my king, my teacher, my brother. Everything I need to know about living in this world, I can learn from His example and teachings. Without Him, I would have no hope for anything beyond this life.
K is for kisses from the dogs. Puppy kisses are wet and sloppy and their doggy breath is stinky. But they love me and never tire of letting me know they do. The trust and unconditional love of a dog is a treasured gift.
L is for Lea. Many years ago, my husband’s family opened their hearts and shared their name with me. My mother-in-law is an amazing and precious woman, my brothers- and sister-in-law are as close as blood. You don’t marry your spouse’s family, but I think I got a pretty good deal when I married into this one.
M is for marshmallows. Roasted and toasted, or all soft and gooey floating on hot, hot chocolate. Everyone’s life should include some puffy goodness every now and again.
N is for needlework. From the time I was a child, the women in my life taught me to use my hands to sew, embroider, crochet and knit. Admittedly, I am not an artistic person by nature, but with a needle in hand, I can create something useful, soft to touch, and pretty to look at. I’m grateful to those who taught me, and I’ve enjoyed teaching others. It’s a pass-along gift from one generation to the next.
O is for the Olympics. For thousands of years, humans have pushed their bodies in order to compete against each other. Watching Olympic athletes is both inspiring and deluding – they make it look so effortless we sometimes forget how much blood, sweat, pain and tears it took them to reach the place where they are. But it’s a marvelous tradition that has stood the test of time, and continues to challenge us to be better tomorrow than we are today.
P is for polish. I have a plethora of polishing and cleaning concoctions. The smell of furniture polish says the house is clean. Squeaky shiny mirrors and doors let light sparkle and glow. The simple act of buffing and polishing something from dull and dirty to a soft sheen or high polish reminds me of how God works to remove my rough edges and and dirty spots. Not to mention, a fresh coat of polish on my toes can make me happy from head to toe.
Q is for Q-tips. Pure genius. So small, so soft, and yet so totally useful. And cheap. Really. Just try to imagine life without them and then you’ll be thankful for them, too.
R is for rainy days. There is something healing and soothing in hearing rain drop to earth. It’s a cool respite in the middle of summer, a gentle noise that can lull us to sleep. Naps on a rainy day? Pure, simple pleasure.
S is for Shelby. Our youngest child and only daughter. Swimmer girl is a beautiful creature inside and out. I am humbled by her faith, and awed by her capacity to love and understand others, and her love of God and life. Sooner than I care to think about, she will be ready to strike out on her own, and I can’t wait to see how her life turns out.
T is for Tony. Aka Mr. Official. And truly, my better half. God must have thought a lot of me to put this man in my life. There’s so much more I could say, but if you know him, you know why I love him with my whole heart.
U is for uniforms, especially those worn by men and women who defend and protect us. Since ancient times, soldiers have worn clothing that sets them apart from civilians, and I am always proud and humbled when I find myself standing next to a member of our military, whether they are in their dress blues or whites, or fatigues. They have stepped up to the line and set themselves apart by their actions and their attire, and they have my undying admiration and respect.
V is for vacations. In my life, I’ve been privileged to visit from sea to shining sea and quite a few of the places in between. The thrill of packing in anticipation of a trip, experiencing new vistas and foods, finding just the right keepsake to bring home, and finally returning to our own beds after some time away gives us memories that last a lifetime, and sometimes a new-found perspective.
W is for water. It’s not only what we’re largely made of, but it replenishes us when we drink it, invigorates us when we jump in, cleanses and calms children (and adults) before bedtime, and reminds us of God’s power and presence when we see his handiwork in thundering waterfalls, mirror-like lakes and pounding ocean waves.
X is for Xerox and X-rays, and all the other marvels of the technological age we live in, where we can replicate anything at the touch of a button, and peer inside our bodies and see babies growing, pinpoint cancerous tumors to remove, and see broken bones that can be made good as new. We live in a truly amazing era. And what we know now simply points out how much more we don’t know.
Y is for yoga. It is part physical, creating flexibility, strength and balance. It’s also part mental, soothing and calming with steady breathing and focused attention. An hour of yoga is an hour well spent.
Z is for the zillions of blessings I haven’t begun to list here. Try to count your blessings, I dare you. They are infinite and they just keep coming, so keep enjoying the life you have and thank God for the the good things He sends your way. As Harriet Beecher Stowe so eloquently put it,
“Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude.”
Today is the big day. It starts with the Macy’s Day Parade (shout out to Evan O’Neal, who will be marching in it!) and turkey and all the trimmings. I pray for safe travels for all of us going “over the river and through the woods,” and an edifying and peaceful day of giving thanks for all we have.
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