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Gratitude: Week 2

What a crazy but awesome week!  Deanne and I took our annual Veteran’s Day
Weekend trip to the lake for a few days of hanging out in our jammies and
reading as many books as possible.  It’s
quiet and peaceful, and I always have plenty of time to think and write and
plan.  I like to think of our lake
weekend as a time when can marinate in my creative juices. 

Time alone with my thoughts also led me to think a little
bit more about all I am grateful for. 
I’m a bit overwhelmed by the list because there’s no way to write it
here in a single month, but then, that’s such a wonderful problem to have. 

This week, I’m focusing on folks I don’t necessarily see
everyday but who, nevertheless, have shaped my world.  I don’t know that I’m actually following the
rules to this Thirty Days of Giving Thanks project.  I haven’t necessarily given a thank you to
all of these people in a card or gift, and not all of them are living, so maybe
my project is more like a Thirty Days of Gratitude.  Either way, I’m celebrating all the blessings
in my life, on earth and in heaven.

Tuesday:  I want to
thank my parents who were young and poor and struggling when I came along.  They are such a good lesson in
parenting.  You don’t have to have years
of experience, lots of money, or material possessions to raise a child.  You just need an extraordinary amount of love
and some common sense.  It didn’t hurt
that they were not afraid to work hard and sacrifice so that I could have what
I needed.  I am who I am because of them,
and I am grateful.

Wednesday: Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law!  I think it, but don’t often say it:  You’re a very good grandmother, and I
appreciate all you do for my kids.  You
are making special memories for them all the time, and as one who was blessed
with the best kind of grandparents, I know how important that is.

Thursday:  Speaking
of, I’d like to say thank you to my Merdie and Pap.  They aren’t with me anymore, but of all the
special people in my life, they are, besides my children, the best of the
best.  They were funny and crazy and
unconventional as the dickens, but they added what I like to think of as flavor
to my life.  My childhood was a
never-ending dream of play and imagination and learning because of them.  They gave me experiences that most kids never
have.  We didn’t fly to Europe or go to
concerts or visit museums.  Ours was more
along the lines of catching tadpoles, tending gardens and milking cows.  We spent our Saturday nights popping corn
over the fire and they filled my head with stories, more stories than I can
even remember, about the mountains and all the people they knew, and they
sparked something in me that will never go away. 

Friday: I am thankful for work.  I get frustrated with all the paperwork and
silly bureaucracy that educators often find themselves drowning in, but I find
great satisfaction in working with conscientious students and other good
teachers.  I like going to a place where
other people think writing and literature is as important as I do.  I am especially grateful to my department
chair, Darin, who is the consummate professional, a top-notch teacher and a
strong leader.  I appreciate his
willingness to take on all the stuff the rest of us wouldn’t want to fool with,
and I appreciate his flexibility with my crazy part-time schedule all these
years.  I also appreciate folks like
Kennette, Sarah, Kathleen and Christina, who are always willing to answer
questions, offer advice and share ideas. 
They are a great group to work with.

Saturday: I am grateful for running buddies.  Crystal and Michelle are like the postal
service; they go out in rain, snow, sleet or shine, and I never have to wonder
if they might bail on me.  Crystal, who
could possibly be categorized as obsessed, will run 22 miles in the snow with
me in the dark of night if a training plan calls for such a stupid thing, and
Michelle will do yoga, ride a bike trainer or run sprints in the parking lot
with me while our kids are at swim practice even though all the other mothers
look at us like we’re crazy.  They keep
me honest, and I appreciate it.

Sunday:  I am grateful
for faraway friends like Jennie and Kelly and Angela.  I don’t see them as often, I don’t talk to
them much, but they are often on my mind. 
These are the folks who, for whatever reason, may have moved on from my
daily life and have their own lives going on in different parts of the country,
but for a while, they were there for me as I survived high school, as I made my
way through college, as I got married, as I navigated life in a new town, and
they are forever a part of me.  Besides,
I know those kinds of friends are never really gone.  If we saw each other this afternoon, it would
be as if we had seen each other only yesterday. 
I love those kinds of friends.

Monday: I am grateful for animals who go crazy when I’ve
been away for a few days and crawl all over me as if to say, “Please don’t ever
leave me again.  I want to be with you
forever.”  Mable curled up with in my
blankets last night and purred so loudly, I thought I might have to put her out
if I ever wanted to go to sleep, and Freckles sighed contentedly in his sleep
as he snuggled into my side on the couch. 
We should all be so lucky to have a little creature in our lives like
Caribou, Freckles, and Mable.  Even
Archer seemed happy to have us back in the house.  He ran particularly fast and far on his wheel
last night and even came out to socialize and nibble a few extra sunflower seeds in the light of day.  I feel that I also have to mention all those pets who have come and gone, some I know I’ll forget to list here having been with me for just a little while, but their significance remains the same.  Pets are among our first experiences of real love, and they should never be underestimated.  

*Murphy, Diesel, Click and Clack, Fred, Jack, Sam, Intea, Buck, Biff, Tom, Pumpkin, Tweezle, Starlight, Buddy, Pop and Corn, Butterscotch, Spooky, Peach, Dot, Goldie, Irmus, Bug, Little Bit, Buddy II, and Wallace.  

A few weeks ago, Doug, our interim minister, told a story about Fred Rogers’ acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards in 1997.  In it, he asks the audience to remember those who have “loved them into being.”  It’s a beautiful speech and a great reminder to remember and be grateful for all those who have shaped us and loved us and helped create us.

Journal Topic:  Take 10 minutes and write down all those who have “loved YOU into being.”  Chances are 10 minutes won’t be nearly enough.