This week is already a jumble for me. I have been making lists and checking them twice...no not christmas (please, no way am I ready for that!), but thanksgiving lists: lists of to do, to clean, to shop, to cook. And today they all start in earnest, the happy slam-o-rama of cooking and baking and prepping for guests and for a feast. But so many thoughts are distracting me that I figured I'd better try to get them out, and in keeping with my mode of the week, the best I can do is a jumbled rambling, talking/listing of sorts. I am organizationally challenged...please bear with me.
So, here we go.
This is the week of thanksgiving. But I want to feel, and do feel, more than thankful. I feel grateful. Grateful seems to me, somehow deeper, fuller. It's not only a feeling of "thank you" to someone for a gift of time or assistance or a thing - although it is so very often certainly that as part of it. Gratitude, for me, is more pervasive, a fuller recognition of the gifts, big and small that I have and see and know. It is what I need to remember when I am swept up into another one of my selfish moods or fears, it is what drives me when I am at my best. It is, ideally, a foundation (all too often, forgotten). The blog Holy Experience keeps a list of 1000 things to be grateful for, always good for some perspective.
For me, the bottom line of gratitude is also relational. Because, for me, while I am and should be grateful for the abundance of material goods and things (and I do appreciate and love them, I do, I am a consumer with the best of them - sadly enough). There is the level of tremendous material thankfulness, for things, for goods, clothes, food, a house, cars, medicine, good shoes, soft beds, the list can go on for a long long time. Thankfulness for money, it is the currency of the material world. But there is another currency, of the world that is the most real, the truest and really the eternal world: and that currency is relational. It is the relationships with the people in your world, the big and the small, the old deep family relationships and the new modern friends and even acquaintances. Even in this blogosphere I have "met" and made so many important friends and I am deeply grateful for these relationships and their ongoing support and connections. The Anchoress writes a post here about community, this is the same track for me and it's worth a read, go look.
So for me, I need to remember that it is gratitude at work, or should be. Thankfullness is critical but it feels more attached to the material currency (which is not to devalue it). But gratitude is deeper and fuller and for me attaches to the relational currency, the realest world.
Every year, Coffeedocs extended family has always come to our house. It's a crazy exhausting week, every time. But it is always memorable, always a little crazy, but I love it. Some years we have had over 20 for Thanksgiving. This year will be our smallest ever, only three extras (but that still means 12). Grandma passed away last winter and so this year will be bittersweet, but still I hope very very good. She is still with us in so many ways and so we will play some cards and think of her. I taught the girls a new card game (Blink, a good game) because Grandma always played cards with them and this way, she's with us just a little closer this week too.
So, we are preparing for Thanksgiving.
And I am grateful and always need to be more so.
Fair warning: list ahead:
I cannot possibly list them all but a smattering:
My family, each child, my dear husband.
My siblings and parents and nieces and nephews and sisters and brothers in law, grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles.
For my dear wonderful friends young and old and new and near and far, in person or on net.
For my faith, my Catholic church and the richness it adds to my life.
For great food and the ability to make it.
For the Eucharist.
For my health and the doctors who keep my family healthy and the meds and science that do the same.
I am thankful for the chance to bring the family together again this year with a warm house and good food favorites and silly card games and time together.
For the Mass.
For the music that fills my house, especially when all my boys are at home.
For the blooming of this toddler who now gives and asks for kissses and is learning to say our names, who squeals with joy when one of us returns home, no matter how long we've been gone.
For a beautiful sweet girl who is half a world away, but now knows we are here too and that we will be together as soon as can.
For a big loud messy family.
For the struggles and tired exhausting days.
For the trials that have taught us/me so much and forced me to grow beyond my hard small shell of self - and for the repeated opportunities to keep breaking that shell as it keeps growing back (ack).
For the endless chances to learn more patience.
For the community that I have learned to see and know.
For the monastery caramels that I cannot resist.
For the saints and their intercession and help and example.
For my son, coming home tonight so all but one of my kids will be under my roof (but soon, I pray, soon).
And of course, ever, good strong hot coffee, preferably with a shot of espresso!
As I said, I could go on and on, but I've already bored everybody. This list however, is for me.
Now you can be thankful I have quit. See, one more for your list. Happy to help!
Now it's time for me to get to work for real. So, I'll leave you with this, he'll shoot me, but I don't care. (I think it was shot w/ one his buddies phones or something so the quality is not so good, but well, I like it) It's one of my biggies for grateful, it's on my list, above. It's from over a year ago, so he's changed but he's coming home tonight and I'll have music of all sorts in my house all week long. I know he'll play some of my favorites too, hint hint.