My family does this *thing* every year. I didn’t realize until tonight (and we’ve been doing this for about 30 years) that it was originally started to get the kids out from under mom’s feet while she was cooking! But, regardless of why it started, it’s been a good thing for us. Using the letters in the word Thanksgiving, we each come up with a list of things we’re thankful for. Here is mine this year, with more explanation than I sent to my family (in italics) because – well, because you’re not my family and you probably won’t understand if I don’t explain more.
Traditions – No matter how old I get, I will always want raisins for the Thanksgiving day parade (though this probably started because we didn’t have money for anything else), to complete this little list every year, to find walnuts in my Christmas stocking (again, probably because that was what my parents could afford), and to wrap my arms around my family for the holidays. (Sadly, this last part is too few and far between as we are separated by many miles, due to our military commitment and my family’s commitment to full time ministry in various places.)
Health – Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the quality of my health. With too many scares in the past, I am thankful for the present. (I used to spend just about every day of my life quite ill. After I recovered from that, I faced a couple of cancer scares. Today I am happy to report that health is not an issue for me for now, thanks to God.)
Arts – I have never been more thankful for the arts, and for the ability I have to create, the stress that it relieves, the small amount of income it brings, but more importantly – the way it brings me great joy, to know that I am using a gift.
Noah – (My oldest son) Who, this year, taught me what it means to be a real live adult (said Pinnochio). His heart and brain absolutely amaze me every day, but we have had a few moments this year that were absolutely life-changing for me, because of him. (I am beyond thankful for Noah looking at me and saying, “Mom. I love you. No matter what. Forever. Nothing changes that.”)
Kitchen – And no, I’m not kidding. (I didn’t used to be the most domestic person in the world.) I am thankful for the ability to walk into the kitchen and cook/bake until my heart is content, because it brings me some of the comforts that I otherwise miss. (You just can’t eat pumpkin cookies or scalloped chicken or a slice of amazing bread without grinning from ear to ear.) (One of the things I’ve been battling lately is a sheer loneliness that stems for being stationed so far away from friends and family, and even away from most of our Marine Corps family currently. Something about a home cooked meal makes a bit of that go away.)
Silence – We don’t get it very often here in the city, but the moments I experience when everything is quiet are absolutely refreshing. (Here’s where I explain that I’m a country girl at heart. Give me a clear view of a star-filled sky on a silent night, with nothing more than a bonfire burning, and I am at my happiest. Oh. And let’s make sure the Marine is at home.)
Grandparents – I’m pretty sure this would have been on my list when I was a kid, but this year it is again. Nothing more special to me than my heritage and family, especially this year as I have begun to realize how frail they are becoming. The legacy they have set before me is immense, and I am aware of and thankful for that. (I have been blessed with more grandparents than a child naturally gets, and they are all more special to me every year. I can’t even begin to explain the lives they’ve lived, and how each and every one of them has somehow touched my life as I’ve grown into my own world.)
I – I am thankful for myself, yes. A stupid notion to some, but I am finally in a place where I actually like myself and am proud of me, and that’s somewhere north of “monumental”, even. (You probably don’t have to read my writings very long to realize I have come from a place of strong emotional abuse, and to say that this healing journey is long is to minimize it. But, this year – truly, I really like myself.)
Veterans – See “I” for one of the reasons I am amazingly thankful for my Veteran. (He helped me remember who I was created to be, and constantly reminds me to stay true to that.) But, for Chris, for Brad (a Marine who recently died stateside), in Luke’s memory, and in respect for all of the other men we know who have willingly signed a contract up to and including giving their own lives for the freedoms in this country – I am beyond thankful and amazingly proud and honored to share life with them and to support them. (Semper Fi, cmm.)
Illogical – I am thankful for the moments in life when I say, “I just don’t understand” or “it doesn’t make sense to me”, and then eventually I start to see a bigger picture. It always amazes me, for some ridiculous reason, that I don’t know the whole picture and that even the illogical can be very wonderful. (Isn’t God cool?)
Nuts and Bolts – (To many of you, this will be known as Chex Mix, but in my family, every year my Grandmother makes the most amazing recipe and it’s called Nuts and Bolts. Don’t argue with tradition.) There is nothing that can’t be cured by sitting down with a fresh warm bowl of Nuts and Bolts. I think, more than anything, it is the tradition tied to the dish, more than the dish itself, however.
Girls – Specifically, mine. I never imagined I would be so blessed in life as to be trusted with 3 daughters, but God apparently has both a cruel sense of humor and some weird reason to trust me with the process. They astound me, make me cry, laugh, and smile constantly, and make me more proud than I will ever know how to tell them about.