Things I need to be thankful for


Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. —W. T. Purkiser

“So this is Thanks­giving. And what have you done?”

John Lennon actually sang “Christmas” in those lyrics, but it’s a poignant holiday song and he was a creative guy, so I don’t think he would mind the tweak.

The holiday season will blow wide open in the next few days, but there’s still time to think about November’s last-minute list of thanks before starting on December’s list of “I wants.”

It could be titled something like, “Things I’m thankful for,” or maybe more accurately, “Things I forgot to be thankful for.”

So what’s on your list?

Food, shelter and clothing? Good ones.

Dibs ice cream, the death of election ads, football weather? Excellent.

I would include all of the above on my list, especially the Dibs. My complete list wouldn’t fit in this paper. And since I have my doubts about the editor giving me the entire issue, I’ve voluntarily edited myself down to five random but important things I might otherwise forget to be thankful for.

• “Tank you, Mommy.”

My toddler is learning to speak. Suddenly her little voice is stringing words into sentences like “I wanna play” and “Tank you, Mommy.” Now that she’s mastered that last one in particular, she says it at every appropriate moment, whether I’m cleaning her face or changing the toilet paper roll. And she sincerely means it every single time.

• The Spread.

Even those who devise creative ways to avoid family holiday dinners have to admit: the buffets of food are a good thing.

Writer Erma Bombeck said, “Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.”

She’s obviously never been to my family’s house. Dinner is no 12-minute event. It starts the moment you walk through the door, flows through the final down of the first game thanks to desserts and finger foods, then rebuilds momentum again as the night game begins.

Twelve minutes? Amateurs.

• Nurses.

Nurses make the difference between a good hospital visit and a bad one. Since having my daughter and dealing with nurses through other family member’s visits over the past couple of years, I know that much is true. The good ones go above and beyond and saying thanks could never cover it. In the very least, I wish them the day off.

• Our new cat.

Princess makes three. I love our oldest cat. The second one, not so much. But the newest kitten lies right beside me with one paw on my keyboard. And she purrs. Cat people get it.

• The Transition Day, a.k.a. Black Friday.

Yes, I’m using Thanksgiving to segue into Christmas. Get through Thanksgiving and it’s on—Christmas season is officially here and holiday radicals won’t be denied.

Some make merry by power shopping. Others replace all of their pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales with garland lights, scented pinecones and snowmen.

I’m especially thankful for the two kids who will destroy the living room unpacking our ornaments, breaking a couple, fighting over a couple more, and then overloading the lower third of our tree with the ones that are still in one piece or can be hot glued back together.

So, there you go, John Lennon. This is what I’ve done. I’ve made my list and checked it twice.

This column first appeared in the Nov. 21, 2006, issue of the Free Press.


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