I recently started a little project on Facebook – a 50-day countdown to Thanksgiving. Every day I post three or four or five things I’m for which I am grateful. Some are big, some are little. But I’ve found it is a nice way for me to reflect upon the many good things in my life. It is a little Oprah-ish, I know. One of my FB friends teased that by the end of the 50 days I’m just going to be listing items in my house – he may be right. But I’m going to see if I can do it.
I plan to do a little recap here every 10 days – and flesh out a few of these with explanations. Plus, it will help me to have the entire list in one place so I don’t list “coffee” and “sleep” 23 times each. I am very very grateful for both. Usually on alternating days.
50 Days of Gratitude – My Thanksgiving Countdown
Things I am Grateful for…
Days 1 through 10
- My son potty-trained himself (At 27 months. The kid is a rock star – I claim no credit for this – this is his success, and not a parenting success – but oh, I do love that he is diaper-free!)
- My daughter smiles and claps for me when I go to get her in the morning (Great on those days when I’m feeling un- or under-appreciated!)
- Antibiotics (Little Plum went three rounds with a nasty ear infection, but I think it is down for the count! At least for now…)
- A good night’s sleep (See #3)
- Pancakes (Perhaps someday I’ll post my Dad’s super-best-ever buttermilk pancake recipe.)
- Small towns
- Tim Gunn (I just think he’s lovely. I’d love to have tea with him. But of course, I would have nothing to wear…)
- The camera on my phone (What did I read recently? Something like, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” I love my iPhone, mostly because of the camera – I’ve captured some amazing moments with it. But it should be mentioned that I also love my iPhone because Siri recommended dumps, unincorporated land, and funeral homes when I asked her where to dump a body.)
- Sundays (Slow pace, pajamas and numbers 5 and 12.)
- Long naps (Plum isn’t so good at this, so when we get one we relish it!)
- Clocks with hands (My mother gave me a traditional, locally-made mantle clock for Christmas last year, and I love it. And it means that my kids will learn to tell time on a non-digital clock.)
- Beetles (Mr. Pickle and I love watching these little guys crawling around the house. I fear the ones in our house are actually stink bugs, though, and refuse to google them.)
- Washing machines
- A warm house (A warm house with a thermostat I can control and turn up as high as I’d like. How lucky am I?)
- My mom and dad
- Handwritten notes, mailed, with stamps
- Broccoli cheddar soup
- Owls (C’mon, look at that face!)
- Cuddling with my Mr. Pickle everyday and sniffing his sweaty stinky little boy curls (He has recently come to love cuddling with me, and I can’t get enough.)
- White noise machines (With a noisy toddler in the house and a baby who is a light sleeper, these are required.)
- Colorful Post-It notes
- My job (Not what I expected to do, but I feel respected, the job is interesting and I really enjoy and respect my co-workers – pretty good if you ask me!)
- Fresh flowers
- Bedtime (For my kids AND for me!)
- Mascara (My hair may be a mess, there may be kid schmutz on my shirt, and I may be half asleep, but at least I can look half awake!)
- A spouse who can lovingly laugh at me and at himself
- Jellybeans (Especially the pectin ones.)
- Small gestures
- Grilled cheese sandwiches (I like them all but I adore provolone, pesto and tomato sandwiches. So so good.)
- Bruce Springsteen
- Lula (My sweetest little half-eared cat, who thinks she is our first baby.)
- Dry shampoo
- Neighbors (You know who you are! We sometimes gather for take-out or just wine on Friday nights. We think they’re great!)
- My bestest sister (I need to figure out a way to talk to her more, because she is so good for me, and always has great insights and makes me laugh.)
- Target (I have $75 Syndrome. I can’t walk out of there without spending at least that much.)
- Pesto (See #32.)
- Cashmere (If I looked good in, or regularly wore bathrobes, I’d be lusting after one made from soft and lovely cashmere. The number of cashmere sweaters I own? I’m not telling. But many goats have suffered.)
- Rocking my little dear heart to sleep (Plum is a happy dumpling, but not a great eater and not a great sleeper. I know rocking her to sleep will bite me in the arse later – or now, she is 7 months old after all – but it is such a nice, cuddly, connected time with my sweet milk-mouthed little one.)
- Beef stew
- Gift certificates
Stay tuned for days 11-20!
I try not to forget, not even for one day, how very lucky I am. But I love that we set aside a day for gratitude. And family and friends. And shameful abundance. And warmth. And lovingly preparing traditional delicious foods for one another. I love that it is a day about sharing, not about acquiring. It is a reminder that we are here for each other.
The poem below is my favorite Thanksgiving blessing, though I don’t believe it was written with that in mind. Though it is certainly more religious than I am (especially the last stanza), I think the sentiment is just perfect.
Lord, behold our family assembled here.
We thank Thee for this place
in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us;
for the peace accorded us this day;
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food,
and the bright skies that
make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Let peace abound in our small company.
Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear
and to preserve. Offenders ourselves, give us the
grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, helps us to bear
forgetfulness of others.
Give us courage and gaiety
and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends,
soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be,
in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength
to encounter that which is to come,
that we may be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath
and in all changes of fortune,
and down to the gates of death, loyal and
loving one to another.
As the clay to the potter,
as the windmill to the wind,
as children of their sire,
we beseech of Thee this help
and mercy for Christ’s sake.
(by Robert Louis Stevenson)
I love Thanksgiving. It is probably my favorite holiday (though Christmas has gotten a whole heck of a lot more exciting since Mr. Pickle Pumpkin arrived).
The smell of sauteing onions and celery in butter… the mad dash to clean and set and prepare (my family has always hosted at least 20 people)… the glimpses of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade caught between the mad dashing… I love it all. Our family is small, so the guest list always includes my other family – the family of dear friends, the family we got to choose. And my dad always gives a toast that makes people cry. He’s got a knack for that.
Everyone has their list of favorite Thanksgiving foods, and these are mine. Sure, they’re not the typical choices, nor are they the most gourmet, but they are the foods that carry the warmest memories and the strongest associations of warmth, abundance and family.
Honorable mention: The olive plate. Canned black olives. Sweet gherkins. Celery stuffed with cream cheese. All served in a little crystal bowl used only once a year. No one is really sure why we continue the tradition, considering that there are lots of other delicious offerings to be had, but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without these old standbys.
5. Stuffing. My grandmother’s stuffing (cooked dangerously in the bird – gasp!) was always too full of Bell’s seasoning and too gluey. My sister and I would get to tear up the sticky white bread. It is so gluey that it congeals into a mass that can be sliced for turkey sandwiches the next day. And it is perfect.
4. Creamed onions. Man, those little suckers are hard to peel. What a pain. And that is what makes them amazing. The bowl of creamed onions (with a just a touch of nutmeg) was always on the small side, which made the portion you took – just 5 or 6 little onions – seem like a hot commodity. Plus, no one was going to peel those little bastards for any other holiday.
3. Broccoli/cheese casserole. I grew up in a foodie household. I didn’t trade my school lunches with the students, I traded with the teachers. My parents can cook. Fo’ shizzle. So this lowbrow dish made by a family friend with only four non-gourmet ingredients always thrilled me. Frozen broccoli, Velveeta (which has never been seen in my parents’ kitchen), butter and crushed Ritz crackers. Heaven in a casserole dish.
2. Pate. Yes, chicken liver pate. I told you, I grew up in a foodie household. I’ve been eating pate foreva, yo. And I love it. Esther used to bring this to the feast, and I’d stuff myself on this rich and nutritiously suspect dish and ruin my dinner. My father has taken over the preparation of the pate and man, the smooth yumminess, with a little sherry, heavy cream, chunks of pecans, and all of that liver-y goodness? Bliss. At least to this palate. (My husband would rather have his toenails plucked out than eat this stuff. Good. More for me.)
1. Butterhorns. I’m a bread person, and these yeast rolls full of butter and then brushed with butter are the. best. ever. Thanks Great Aunt M! Wait, I think she’s actually a cousin… anyway, they are the highlight of the feast, warm, golden and slightly salty from the brushed butter. I want to take the bread basket and hide in the closet and eat them all. No really, I do. And the next morning, microwaved for 9 seconds they are the perfect accompaniment for raspberry jam, or perhaps mini-turkey, stuffing, mayo, and cranberry sauce sandwiches. I would like to eat 6 right now.