Last week, I worked on my annual Thanksgiving newspaper column in which I express gratitude for small things that improve my life — duct tape, naps, peanut brittle and the death of girdles. As I generated ideas, chuckling at my wit, a question crept into my mind and interrupted my merriment: “Rather than trying to be a comedienne every year, why don’t I acknowledge the significant blessings that grace my life?”
In answer, important blessings worthy of sincere gratitude demanded my attention, and when I wrote about them, words of thanks flowed easily.
I’m grateful for autumn’s splendor when days of untrammeled sunshine softened by cool breezes make it impossible to stay indoors; when color-burnished leaves swirl around families readying for Halloween and Thanksgiving, crunch under the feet of walkers and wait in wind-drifts for the attention of children. A time when people of all ages pause, turn their faces to the sun, breathe deeply of the cinnamon-scented air and rejoice in this season that fills my heart with gratitude.
I’m thankful that through my increased online activity, I’ve re-introduced myself to my nieces and nephews. I let these precious people I knew as cuddly babies, delightful toddlers, inventive children and funny teenagers gradually withdraw from my life as they matured, moved away from my siblings’ homes, scattered across the country and became preoccupied with spouses and children of their own.
For years, I confused hearing about my nieces and nephews from their parents with learning about them through their words flavored by their personalities. But now, the youngsters who delighted me with their antics have returned as they interact with one another and me on Facebook or my blog: teasing, supporting, agreeing, disagreeing, and sharing. Occasionally, they address affectionate words and memories to me, and I feel the same rush of happiness I experienced when they were young and climbed on my lap or threw their arms around me.
I’m also grateful for the brothers and sisters who enrich my life. I used to feel alarmed when I thought about the years we had had accumulated and the inevitable outcome of having lived so many. Then I experienced the initial grief and lingering loneliness that accompanies the death of a brother and emerged thankful that my siblings and I walked life’s journey together, even as I missed Lawrence, who no longer walks with us.
Finally, I feel gratitude for the community in which I live. Every day the people of Craig bless me with smiles: the young boy walking to school who calls “Hi!” with a gap-toothed grin, the clerks and workers who glance up with a smile even at the end of a long day, the drivers who wave whether we’re acquainted or not; the parents who smile when I laugh at the cute actions of their little ones.
I know some of those who initiate a smile or return mine aren’t feeling well, are concerned about a child, are mourning a loved one, are feeling the pinch of our economic times, are lonely; yet they smile. Thus, I give thanks for them.