I woke up making my list and checking it twice. Not my gift list, but my “gifts” list. My list of all for which I am thankful. What follows is part of this reflection.
I’m full. Two days to Thanksgiving and the frozen bird is in the fridge, but I am full. Not stuffed, but full.
We had our pre-Thanksgiving feast at church on Sunday, and welcomed back many people we hadn’t seen in a while. One was Caitlin, home from her first months in college. She’s a rising star. You UUs should keep an eye on her. I’m grateful to know her and to be on her list of people she looks to as … as, well I’m not sure what. Could be friend, could be mentor, could be just someone else who sees a larger picture of our faith than what is painted in the four small walls of our congregation.
The girls had fun and ate lots of food. Eldest daughter has joined the speech/debate club which keeps her busy two afternoons and Saturdays each week. Up early to catch a bus on Saturday, some days at 4:00 a.m., some days as late as 6:00 a.m., then gone anywhwere from 10 to 12 hours. She asked to stay home one Sunday and I let her, but this Sunday she was up and ready like the rest of us. I think it was the promise of pumpkin pie.
She asked me, later that day, if she and I could spend some time just the two of us. “I don’t see you so much,” she said. Then we got home and a friend called to see if she could go see Twilight and off she went with her. “We’ll catch up another day,” she said. And we will. And last night, she said “I like you guys as parents.” What more could the mother of a 15-year-old ask for?
Middle daughter and I have been spending a lot of time together. Just the two of us. I’m treasuring it. She is funny and insightful and she actually said to me the other day “I really like hanging out with you, Mom.” Right back at you, kiddo.
Youngest daughter is who she is. She still fits on my lap and I get to brush her hair every night and braid it for her, loosely, so the morning brushing does not take as long.
We will host people at our house on Thursday. There will be holes where Karen, Paul and Catherine usually sit. But they are with their “real” family this holiday, in a place where it is warm and there is rum. But I will miss them. They are our family, “real” or otherwise. A new place will be filled, though, which is good news. Brother-in-law has a girl. This is huge news. He has not dated in years. My heart is full for the possibilities of this. Where there was one; let there be two.
I am full.
I’m living my small-town life–and appreciate every second of it. We went to the elementary Spell Bowl the other day (where daughter 3 was an alternate) and there, as we left, I ran into one of the guys who works the office at my mechanics shop. They know me by name there. We exchange pleasantries. The guys who gutted and renovated our bathroom just came back to fix two things that should have been right but weren’t. Got to have a nice political/social action talk with the owner of the group. These are good people. The kind of people you wish you knew better. I go downtown to buy my coffee and they know me there, as well. I go to the eye doctor and run into my husband’s aunt and uncle and the doctor walks me back to say hello to them. The eye doc has stopped telling me the story of when he first met my mother-in-law every time I go to see him, but now asks about me, about us all.
Today is quiet. One cat sleeps just over my shoulders, on the back of this big overstuffed-chair. Two others curl up in opposite corners of the other big chair, looking like different-colored book ends. The dryer hums and clangs below.
I’ll get up in a minute and clean the kitchen and wash the dishes we’ll eat off of on Thursday. I’ll put in a movie and fold laundry and chop vegetables for the stuffing and maybe bake the sweet potatoes so that dish can be done before Thursday. I am putzing with purpose today. The purpose being renewal.
We will have a house full on Thursday and my goal is not to be stressed but to be happy, full, and thankful–and to let things roll out as they will. There will be games (promised youngest a game of 10,000 as she tends to win this dice game and learns when to tell the drunk adults to stick a sock in it so she can follow her own intuition–and if a game teaches you nothing else, I think this is enough).
These are hard times. And they promise to get harder. But this is what we have to offer each other–the warmth of family, of familiarity, of faithfulness to the bigger picture. So even as it promises to get tougher, it also promises to be more tender. Take time for that, in these weeks to come. Take time to find comfort in comfort–wherever it comes from. Take time to give comfort, too. Be joyous in the tangible delight that is a loved-one’s laugh.
We have nothing else, really. There is no value beyond the love, care and comfort we give to each other. But I say this being able to afford that coffee I go downtown to get. We are not rich, but we are fine. We are better-off than many. And in some ways, we are wealthier than most.
Right now, if gratitude were gold, I would be queen of the world.