Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

gratitude in the year 2014

20 Nov


turkey 2If I know even one thing about you, it’s that your life looks different than it did last year, maybe in big ways, maybe in small. This past year, and well, every year before that, we clumsily struggled to balance the big and the little, with varying degrees of success. If every single thing coming our way was a major life event, we’d be exhausted and broke. We can’t have a baby every day, or get married every week, indefinitely stay on that grand vacation, or graduate every couple of months. For sure, your aunt would eventually stop sending cards stuffed with $20.

After all the big stuff you fit in this year, comes the avalanche of small, with a few mediums squeezed in. We waver back and forth between celebrating the little, and wallowing in the little, and complaining about the little, then not sweating the little, as many a bumper sticker and motivational book advises us to do. Just as our life can’t be all big, it can’t be all little, because then I would have to mark my milestones with vanilla lattes and deals I’ve found at Target.

And so here we are, at the very best time of year to take stock in our lives – the big and the little – and remember that there’s simply more good than bad, and the big stuff sometimes isn’t as big as we think, and the little not as insignificant as it first appears.

  • However your family is constructed, whether it’s made of blood relatives or people you hand-picked, what a gift they are. These are some of the few people you still call on the phone, and ask favors of without feeling weird. You love them. And even after knowing all that stuff about you – the real you -the you that’s a poor sport, and a terrible singer, and chronically late, they love you back anyway.
  • Whoever your friends are, however difficult they may be, however many times you have driven them to the airport or helped them move, they know what you’re like at the end of a long night out, and that you have the tendency to talk too much/too little over coffee, and guess what? They still want to hang out with you, and you still want to hang out with them. They invite you to watch the game, or for a mani/pedi, and they don’t even mind that you are not as good at planning those kinds of outings as they are.
  • Maybe this is the year you gave up soda and dropped a few pounds. You ate clean and were the poster child for green juice. No? Guess what, another opportunity to juice everything is around the corner. And for whatever parts of you that seem to be working fine and humming along today, getting you where you need to be, thanks and hallelujah!
  • At least once a week, I threaten to quit reading the news, because lately it’s really just terrible, on a big global scale – TERRIBLE. But hey, this year, healthy panda triplets were born, and human twins were born holding hands. And remember when the Giants won the World Series? (Skip that one if you have to, Royals/Cardinals/Dodgers fans). Jimmy Fallon’s doing a great job with the Tonight Show; we still have another year of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes; it’s ok to wear loose fitting jeans again, and Gen Xers everywhere are celebrating the fashionable return of the plaid flannel shirt. This year a Time Magazine cover told us to “Eat Butter.”  It’s true, look it up, then eat some butter.

And don’t forget….

  • You celebrated a birthday – maybe even a big one.
  • At least one TV show you love did not get cancelled.
  • The time changed, and even though you hated it at first, you got used to it. So much so, you got mad when it changed again.
  • You ate a comfort meal that reminded you of your childhood.
  • You saw a breathtaking sunset/sunrise/full moon.
  • You splurged on something you shouldn’t have, but it felt great.
  • You read something that made you laugh/cry ugly/think hard.
  • You had the world’s best cup of coffee.
  • You helped someone who needed it.
  • Someone helped you when you needed it.
  • You found that thing you thought you’d lost. It was under the car seat/couch/pile of papers on the kitchen counter.
  • You found out they’re making Toy Story 4.
  • You got waaaaaaaaaaaay into the World Cup, and you didn’t let anybody forget it.
  • You didn’t have to get a new phone/you got to get a brand new phone!
  • Your March Madness bracket busted early, but that’s ok, so did everybody’s.
  • You finally learned the definition of zeitgeist/alchemy/schadenfreude/bae (thanks kids!) and look forward to putting them to good use in 2015, (much to the chagrin of said kids).
  • You got through something you didn’t know you could get through.
  • You got a little wiser.
  • And someone out there, whether you know it or not, is thankful for you.

Turkey

 

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thanksgiving! Find me on Instagram @colleenweems, and Twitter @FulcrumChron

one small candle

24 Nov

This is a gratitude emergency.

Last year, for weeks before Thanksgiving, my Facebook news stream was full of little things that people were thankful for. This year, not so much.

Ok, so things in the world aren’t exactly perfect right now. The air out there is charged with the uncertainty that accompanies transition and that moment just before hope is lost.  On the scary scale, uncertainty is right up there with mannequins and clowns.

Jobs are uncertain, relationships are uncertain, health is uncertain. The news is dismal, the weather is weird, and people are cranky.

However, there is something about today that has just got to be great. Start small if necessary. Was your pancake good? Are you wearing your favorite sweater? Is your chair comfortable?

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my blanket. I was so stressed and tired that I thought I had lost my mind, with the telltale sign being my proclivity for wearing this blanket as a cape. Eleven months later, I am again wearing the blanket as a cape. It’s fine, I get it. I’m a lady who wears a blanket for a cape as I sit typing in the dark early morning hours. It’s soft and warm and I’m happy to have it, even if it makes me look crazy.

You may, as I do, hate the idea that Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Thursday. Let’s be thankful we can protest by refusing to go out there and get in a shouting match over a panini press with a stressed out woman in a Santa sweatshirt. My plan instead, is to eat an extra piece of pie and lay around, hard, just to make a point. Join me, won’t you?

The Muppets are back, and early reviews are good. You can say “wocka wocka,” and do your best Janice impression (everybody needs to have a Janice/Swedish Chef/Beaker impression at the ready in their backpocket.) Your kids will get it finally and you can feel relevant again!

Don’t forget the people. Of course we are thankful for the people  who love us unconditionally, and support us no matter what. Let’s not forget the ones who show up out of nowhere, and bring a little sparkle to the day, even if they don’t mean to.

Our church campus doesn’t get quiet during Thanksgiving week – it comes even more alive. Part of my job is to organize a large Thanksgiving Eve dinner that leaves me depending on an army of volunteers to show up the night before Thanksgiving and help welcome and serve a couple hundred people. Without fail, I have my annual dream a few nights before the dinner, that this is the year the volunteers forget to show up. That dream, along with the one where I am treated to unlimited shoe shopping, has yet to come true. Instead, on Thanksgiving Eve, I am once again surrounded by people who are happily hauling vegetables, counting spoons and lighting candles, though there are plenty of other places they could be.

And then, sometimes, the most significant wallop of gratitude comes from the smallest moment.

Part of John’s job is to oversee our church’s hosting of a shelter for homeless families the two weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. The campus practically bursts at the seams with our lovely guests and the volunteers who arrive in droves to tutor, cook, clean, sit and visit. I walked in on the action a couple of nights ago….not to lend a kind and helping hand, but to track down someone who had something I needed. I came in with an agenda, stomping around in a hurry, when a shelter guest approached me – a boy about 11, the same age as my eldest son. He shook my hand and introduced himself with a strong voice full of cheer and respect. He chatted for a moment before he excused himself, book in hand, to find a quiet spot in the shelter to read. I wanted to yell after him, “When the day comes, you have my vote!” Instead I stood dumbly staring after him as he disappeared behind a curtain.

“That kid’s amazing; he’s going to do great things in life,” John gestured to the boy, after noticing I’d been struck speechless by confusing emotions –  awe, sadness, guilt, frustration that there are kids in crummy situations, and affirmation that kids  – any kids at all – are capable of such poise and manners. I had come in to the shelter with my thinking eyebrows and gameface on, and that boy was the one who had graciously welcomed me to his very temporary home, which on most days is just our church’s Fellowship Hall. I left, not brimming with gratitude for my house, hot meals or creature comforts, but thankful that I’d met someone who is out there doing what we are all tasked with….reflecting light, joy, hospitality, and kindness into a world that could really use it.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle.” – Anonymous

I am thankful for you! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

hey man, thanks.

24 Nov

Once again, Thanksgiving week has turned out to be one of my busiest at work. And although, some might beg to differ, it’s not retail. Church has been completely abuzz this week with energy and all kinds of activity –  people carrying boxes, rolling carts, and yelling questions to each other across the parking lot. And though I might be running around yelling “Wow, it’s busy! And it’s cold! Can you believe how cold it is?!” I totally have the warm fuzzies. Because it seems entirely appropriate to me that church would be a hub of gratitude.

I’ve thought a lot about gratitude, watching all of these people and reading your wonderful, real, funny, tender Facebook updates about the things you are thankful for. And if you sit down and think really hard about what it means to be thankful, I mean really hard, like the kind of thinking you do when you randomly fixate on the chicken/egg dilemma, it will knock your flippin’ socks off.

And when you think that hard, it becomes pretty clear that even though they can sometimes give you a headache or make you want to hide under your desk, the greatest blessings God sends us, whether we like it or not, come in the form of beautifully flawed people and the little people things that they do, often when we least expect it. We are gifted every day without deserving it, and it is such a treat and a humble honor to think of the kind things that people have done for seemingly no reason at all. Invisible little blessings that when they are all put together, are sometimes the things that simply get us through the day, or even change the trajectory of our month. I’m not talking about generic people out there somewhere, but specific people with faces and everything. Know what? That’s you – I’m thankful for you. Yup, you. You might not even know you’re doing it, but you are and it rocks.

Thanks for the homemade soup last week. Thanks for inviting me to your wedding. Thanks for complimenting my hat. Thanks for the nice email out of the blue. Thanks for your understanding that I haven’t been able to return that email as fast as I should and that I didn’t call like I was supposed to. Thanks for the gift card. Thanks for lending me that book. Thanks for helping me out on this event, and that one last year too. Thanks for the advice on that thing. Thanks for lunch. Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for driving. Thanks for calling. Thanks for grabbing me an iced tea. Thanks for the baby announcement. Thanks for leaving that cookie on my desk. Thanks for sending me that funny video, even thought it wouldn’t work on my computer. Thanks for offering to feed our new kitty when we’re away. Thanks for posting such funny Facebook comments. Thanks for giving me your last Kit Kat. Thanks for reading this blog. Thanks for the flowers. Thanks for agreeing with me. Thanks for confirming that I am not, in fact, crazy. Thanks for digging Twilight with me. Thanks for putting up with me, even though I’m totally annoying when it comes to Twilight. Thanks for being so nice to that lady, when I just didn’t have the energy. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for letting me love you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And because I care for you – I beg of you. Please don’t go to Kohl’s at 3:00 am. Stay up late and play a game with your friends. Eat a second piece of pie. Watch a movie you’ve seen a thousand times, but do not go to Kohl’s at 3:00 am. It will not make you feel better. It is scary out there. Not because it’s completely dark, and you’re hanging out where nobody has any business being that early in the morning. It’s scary because there are people out there who will not think twice about taking you down if you stand in between them and that talking doll/flat screen/video game system/electronic picture frame. I went out early once– it was for an all-terrain remote control car. I mean, thank God I was there right? I got it. I was a winner. Jake played with it and played with it. And by that, I mean he played with it exactly twice. The closest it got to all terrain was driving over the other toys that lay forgotten in its path. Plus, getting up early is hard.