Lesser Blessings

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One year during Thanksgiving dinner, between the blessing on the food and the passing of the turkey, Mom asked us to express gratitude: “Mention something meaningful,” she said with a stern look at Dad, “Don’t talk about pumpkin pie or being grateful your belt expands.”

We started strong. We talked about good health, our grandparents, and Lawrence home from Korea; then Blaine piped up: “At this moment, I’m most thankful I didn’t have to sit by JL.”

In memory of Blaine’s mettle, I’ve devoted this column to an appreciation of my lesser blessings:

I’m thankful I no longer wear pantyhose. In my twenties I endured run-prone nylons held up by the garters of a girdle so tight it discouraged breathing. For the next several decades I waddled around with the waistband of poorly fit pantyhose bisecting my hips. When I tried elastic-topped thigh-highs, they lost their grip, slipped, and bunched attractively around my ankles. Happiness is retirement and wool socks.

Next, I’m glad to see cursive writing go the way of the Edsel. I used to ponder the alphabet charts demonstrating perfect cursive formation that marched around my grade-school classrooms; and I practiced their outlined moves diligently during daily handwriting drills—parades of capital Q’s that wobbled and grew increasingly misshapen. But I never mastered the proportions, loops, and slants necessary to earn a penmanship star. Computers saved me. Since their advent, I rarely have to clutch a pen in a thumb-numbing grip to scratch out text I can’t decipher two minutes later.

I’m also thankful for the many napping experiences of my past: marvelous minutes stretching out in a recliner, curling up on a couch, squashing my face against a car window, or bobbing my head about in an airplane. I’m no longer able to casually drift into a nap, so such memories are precious. These days, when I grow drowsy after lunch and lie down for a snooze, I twitch with anxiety until I force myself to leap up and dash about doing something — anything— because I know if I give in, I’ll be up at night, ranting about my inability to sleep.

Coffee deserves my gratitude. No matter what time I get out of bed, it’s too early. I breathe a sigh of relief when I manage to force my feet to the floor, because I know I’ve accomplished the most difficult task I’ll face all day. Such courage should be rewarded by fifteen to thirty minutes of silent staring, but Joel, a chirping morning lark, doesn’t get it. Coffee helps.

Finally, I’m thankful for a plucky rose we inherited when we bought our house. We’ve transplanted it numerous times, and each time we do, it rallies to produce a single bud that is destroyed by deer looking for a snack before it blooms. The next year, it tries again.

Each spring, I watch for life in this rose, and my heart sings when I see it.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.