Thursday, November 26, 2009

Simply Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a day of thankfulness, and I am grateful for so many things. Of course, in the broadest sense, I am deeply appreciative of my family, my friends, my health, my home, my country and my faith.

But I am also grateful for the little things.

I am not wealthy and never have been. I'm not a collector of shiny toys and the latest gadgets or gizmos. Like many people, I know the frustration of living paycheck to paycheck, as well as the worry of making ends meet if those paychecks cease. I also know what it is like to face challenges in life and to overcome deep hurts and hardships.

Yet I consider myself immensely fortunate. Regardless of life's trials and tribulations, I can find joy in its simplest pleasures. In my world, little things have always been … everything.

My grandmother taught me that joy was everywhere. While walking me around her yard to show off new blooms on her miniature roses or point out the mother robin's antics that made her laugh, she shared a valuable lesson and a wonderful gift. I am so grateful.

Oh, how I delighted in simple joys as a child: the exquisite sensation of wind rushing into my face as I pedaled furiously down the street on my baby-blue Schwinn; the roughness of bark under my hands as I climbed our backyard tree to the tippy-top branches; the delicious satisfaction of barely making it to the front porch "home base" during a dusk game of tag with the neighborhood kids.

During the warm summer nights of childhood, I loved lying on the kitchen floor. With my back pressed against the cool linoleum, I watched my mother as she scurried back and forth from the stove to the fridge, making supper for her four unruly children. If I was very, very lucky, my father would burst in to spin her around the kitchen in an impromptu dance, making us all giggle.

When the holiday season rolled around each year, I savored the smell of turkey roasting in the oven all day and was humbled by leading my family in prayer as we gathered around the dining room table.

After Thanksgiving, I relished that wonderful-terrible wait until Christmas. How giddy I would be when we traipsed downtown to purchase a fresh tree from the local Optimist Club's lot. After we decorated it, I would sleep under the branches that first night. Lying on a pallet of blankets, I inhaled its pine fragrance and watched the twinkling lights until my eyes grew heavy and Santa-filled dreams carried me away.

As I grew older and gained more responsibilities, it was harder to find those simple pleasures, but they were always there if I only took the time to look. The magic of winter's first snow still awed me, as did the sight of jonquils breaking through the cold ground in early spring.

When I became a mother, my life was further enriched by the simple delights only children can bring. Is there anything more precious than the feel of a child's small hand in your own? Or the way the back of their necks smell when they are fresh from the tub? Or how you can, on occasion, see the "baby" in their faces as they sleep, no matter how much they have grown?

Children make life more complicated, but exquisitely so.

I am grateful for the adorable freckles scattered across my son's nose and the compassion in his snaggletooth smile; the intelligence and warmth in my daughter's beautiful, almond eyes; and the goodnight hugs and kisses both children insist upon, even as they grow too old to allow public displays of affection.

Some of life's grandest moments are indeed the simplest ones.

When my first child was born, my husband and I were young and living away from family. The first 12 weeks of her life were a blur of feedings, diapers and anxious nights, and we were exhausted and overwhelmed. In our desire to become the best mommy and daddy, we had forgotten our roles as husband and wife.

But one rainy, unseasonably warm Saturday night in March, our three-month old baby girl finally fell asleep on her own in her crib. The windows were open so we could hear the rain, and James Taylor played softly on the radio.

My husband surprised me when he asked me to dance, and as I nestled my cheek against his neck, we swayed back and forth as Mr. Taylor crooned, "How sweet it is to be loved by you." When the song ended, we continued to dance to the melody of the rain. It was one of the simplest, sweetest nights of my life, and I am thankful for it.

Life will always toss hurdles and obstacles our way, but it is our fault if we allow those shadows to shroud the sun. Today, in addition to the obvious, I am grateful for the backyard roses that are blooming well into November and the aroma of freshly ground, French-roasted coffee. I am thankful for holiday well-wishes from friends, the sweet, old dog curled up faithfully at my feet and my mom's laughter when she called this morning.

Happiness is all around us, if we take the time to find it.

Perhaps time is life's most precious gift of all.

Despite the hustle and bustle and demands of a busy life, I am thankful I have taken the time to sit on my front porch swing and savor a cup of coffee while wrens chirp their morning songs. I am thankful that I dig my hands into moist spring soil and plant seedlings, knowing the labor today will pay off tomorrow with blooms and fruit. I relish the moments I take to dance and play with my children despite dishes in the sink and errands to be run.

I am thankful for the time I take to write my life, so I can reflect and be … grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. I am thankful for you. May all of life's simple pleasures surprise and delight you today and always.


  1. That's so beautiful Jennifer... thank you for sharing. I confess I teared up a little at the scene of you and your husband dancing to the rain. I feel like my own life has taken so many unexpected and sometimes difficult turns... but it's those moments of coffee brewing and watching the sun come up outside the kitchen window that are the most beautiful and grounding.

  2. Has anybody seen my James Taylor CD?

  3. posted at 11:06 am? on thanksgiving day? what'd you serve, spaghettios? in my family, on thanksgiving day, the women know their place (the kitchen) and stay there until i am bent over in pain from overstuffing.

    then they take me to the ER, but that's ancillary.


  4. JJR-thank you for putting into words what many of us never could. Happy day after Thanksgiving.

  5. beautiful, jenn... simply beautiful:)
    d xxxx

  6. Hi Jennifer, I can very much relate to this post, thank you.. It more or less mirrors how I feel about life.. I will forever be thankful.. By the way, I'll be following you from hereon :-)

  7. Thanks, everyone. I am grateful for you!

    And welcome, Meretrisha! I'm so happy to have you following along.