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Monday, November 25, 2013

Riches

By now it has escaped nobody that the Thanksgiving season is upon us. And I'm not just talking about the Black Friday ads which are being stuffed into your mailbox. Even if it wasn't marked on your calendar, you could figure it out in the most basic of ways simply by the wind slamming the door behind you once you've entered your house. With a "brrrrrrr, it's cold out there", your next thought would be an unconscious, "and I'm thankful that it's warm in here!"

I just came in from putting seeds out for our visiting birds. It's something I do year-round, because we like watching them come to eat and socialize and jockey for a spot at one of the feeders. We can tell without looking when a screamy blue jay is hogging the sunflower seeds, and it reminds me that my ladybug-shaped feeder is still buried in the tall grass by where Dada parks his car, still full of decaying peanuts that the jays couldn't fit through the holes. My bad. We can tell by the mourning doves' sorrowful coos that the sparrows aren't knocking enough still-full seeds to the ground. Sometimes I'll fill the feeders and 6-8 plump doves will arrive and simply sit along the fence, like Black Friday shoppers camping out. They don't bother to eat anything. They just stare at me like, "what're you looking at? We're just SITTING here." To which I think back, "WHY are you just sitting there? The feeders are full, birdbrains!"

I also cleaned up all the dog poop in the yard. The kids laugh because I call it, "my favorite job." They know exactly what I mean when I say I'm going to go do my favorite job. It pretty much guarantees I'll get to do it in peace. Nobody wants a part of that. Perhaps I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: the only redeeming feature of cold weather is that the dog poop freezes. That's a good thing because 1) it is easier to pick up when it's frozen solid and 2) it doesn't smell as much. I suppose if I were a dog, I'd object to that second one as I'm sure their powerful noses can smell much more into the poop than just stink. Alas, I'm can't.

The washer is sudsing away and most of the beds have been remade already. That tells me I should be thankful for several things. One, that we have enough clothes to be wearing some while others are in the wash. Two, that I can do our laundry right in our home. Don't get me wrong, I love laundromats. I always have fun in laundromats. I have loved them since I was a kid when our dryer died. I think it was the dryer, anyway. Plus, I have many memorable trips to a laundromat with a certain Mary Alice and our backpacks filled with notepaper and pens with which to write our bucket notes to tell camp staff how loved they are. And candy. But believe me when I say I'm thankful that I don't HAVE to go to one on a regular basis. Blessed. Three, we have beds. We don't have to share one or two. Or be on a pallet on the floor. Or a bag filled with straw if we're lucky.  Four, we have extra sheets for said beds. That's mostly thanks to Grandmama, who has a mild Salvation Army addiction, but that's a post for another day.

The same goes for the outside business. I had a coat and a hat and mittens on. I'm thankful that I own all those things. Not so thankful that we live in a climate where those things are needed, but I appreciate them nonetheless. I'm glad I smushed my big kids into all those objects before they left for the bus stop. Thing One is learning about insulators and conductors, so perhaps she is a tiny bit more appreciative of her thick, warm, heat insulating coat as our typical Ohio wintry winds whip around her at the bus stop.

And we have enough money to buy birdseed, even though it may only be for the sparrows of the fields. We have enough that we can have a family pet. We would be sad without our hairy beast. I know this. As much as I trip over her and complain about where she chooses to spread out that long, long body of hers, we miss her when she's not with us. As many times as I have to tell her, "go lay DOWN" when she's trying to sneak her 100 pound self under the kitchen table, I'm thankful that she's part of our family. Hairballs and all.

The kids have tests in these two days before Thanksgiving vacation, and I'm trying to be thankful for that because it means that they get to go to school. Both genders of them. Their school has heat and lights and they get to see their friends and have teachers who enjoy them. Our kids can read. Blessed!

Damon and I have been coughing and blowing our noses frequently because we have been sharing a cold. Instead of complaining about my sore nose or how many tissues we're going through, I should be praising because this too shall pass. It is just a cold. We don't have cancer or Lyme Disease or anything genetic that we could have to deal with for the rest of our lives. And that's not to knock those of you who are suffering, please don't think that. It's simply to say that I'm aware of what's out there, and I AM grateful that I'm not going through it either myself or as a mom watching my kids struggle through it. We are so fortunate to have our health, which we always take for granted until it is adversely affected!

Plenty of us on Facebook have been participating in the #30daysofthanks challenge (Nana, that's 30 days of thanks) where we post what we're thankful for each day. I can honestly say that I haven't had to think very hard for blessings. They're right in my face all the time. Everywhere I look. Today I tripped over a big toy. I was carrying aforementioned laundry in a basket on my hip, didn't see the huge toy underfoot, and crashed right into the doorway. My first thought was to start griping through clenched teeth while I rubbed my sore elbow. I can't post what I thought because I try to keep this site family friendly. And then, I thought about how we have so many blessings I'm tripping over them!

When Dada and I were in Hawaii almost 5 years ago, we were talking with friends who'd read or heard about someone getting rid of all their possessions until they'd ended up with only 100. One spoon. One fork. One plate. Three things. We talked a lot about, "well, was it one pair of socks or one sock? How about pairs of shoes? One sheet set or one sheet and one pillowcase and one top sheet?"  They went on to say that while not many of us could truly live comfortably or feasibly (especially if you have young children- one diaper or one box of diapers or one trunkful of diapers?) on only 100 things, there are probably a TON of us who could get rid of 100 things and hardly notice. Certainly who could give away 100 possessions and not be inconvenienced. Those 100 objects might inspire us to give away more, to simplify. To get rid of the Stuff that is making us trip. To get rid of the Stuff because more is coming into our homes on Black Friday. On Christmas. For our birthdays. Just because. How about we start or continue blessing others by donating some of our Stuff?

Go to your local charity's websites or stores and ask what is needed. Check with the Red Cross to see what the typhoon victims really and truly could use. Find out what the people in Kokomo, Indiana lost to the tornadoes and desperately need replaced. Help fill the Salvation Army kettle where the Boy Scoutsicles are madly ringing the bell. Drop off whatever nonperishables you can afford to the food pantry in your town. Make art or a scarf for that elderly neighbor. Donate your time and your money to your church- they often already have feet on the ground where the need is greatest and we don't have the time to waste reinventing the wheel. Be the light in this season when the sun shines less often and not as brightly.

May your blessings be tight enough keep you warm, but not so tight as to constrict your heart until it becomes two sizes too small. Experience the true joy of the season by shifting focus to others. Make the holidays a Grinch-free zone.

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