The Little Things . . . And the Big Things, Too

I’m as bad as anyone–and probably worse than most–about not showing daily appreciation for all the goodness in my life.  I get distracted and stressed by all those little annoyances that demand my attention–the piles of dirty laundry in the bedroom floor, the stacks of dirty dishes in the sink,  the clutter of bills on the kitchen counter–and I forget that those annoyances are also proof of an abundant life.  My wardrobe could clothe an entire army of little women, my cupboard could feed an entire army of hungry college kids (and frequently does), and those bills are just reminders that I have available health care, a well insured roof over my head, clean drinking water streaming from my faucets and enough electricity to power televisions, computers and countless other gadgets.

By most of the world’s standards, I am extremely wealthy.  And by anyone’s standards, I am extremely blessed.

I have faced some difficult struggles in the past year, some that have damaged my health, some that have threatened my already depleted sanity, and some that have broken my spirit (or at least tried).  But as difficult as some of my experiences have been, they have been trivial in comparison to the challenges faced by some of my friends and acquaintances.  Their struggles and my own have helped me to realize not only how lucky I am but also how much I have taken for granted.

And so, on this national day set aside for giving thanks, before everyone else rolls out of bed and this day gets crazy hectic, I am pausing for a few moments to express gratitude for just a few of my many blessings.  The little things . . . and the big things, too.

I am thankful for, and all the other online shopping sites that let me experience Black Friday from the comfort of my recliner (and especially the ones that offer free shipping!).

I am thankful for steaming whirlpool baths, Advil gel caps, Icy Hot roll-on, and physical therapists with magic hands.

I am thankful that I’m the only one in this house who likes pumpkin pie–which means I get to have it for dessert tonight and breakfast for every day hereafter until it’s gone.  I am also thankful for the dietitian on The Today Show who proclaimed that pumpkin pie is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, thereby preemptively relieving me of any guilt I might have felt for eating the whole pie all by myself.

I am thankful for my two canine protectors who chase, tackle and wrestle each other around the yard for my entertainment–but then stop in their tracks and circle ’round as soon as they sense approaching danger.  That danger might be a wayward squirrel or a suspicious-looking salesman in a Buick, but either way, I’m safe.

I am thankful for my car’s GPS system that gets me wherever I need or want to go with nary a wrong turn, and even more importantly, magically gets me back from wherever I’ve been.

I am thankful for the winding country roads that lead to my little country home just over the hill from a beautiful lake.

I am thankful for afternoon walks on warm November days and blazing fires in the firepit on crisp November nights.

I am thankful for finally finding my glasses after looking for them for THREE MONTHS and finding my winter coat after looking for it for a mere three weeks.

I am thankful for cool satin sheets and warm handmade quilts.  And I am thankful that I can slide out from under all those covers when my body is ready instead of when an alarm clock tells me that it’s time.

I am thankful for ice-cold, fresh-squeezed lemonade and BLTs on toast (hold the mayo).

I am thankful for the smell of approaching rain and the sight of golden leaves floating on the breeze.

I am thankful that on dreary, blustery days, I have nothing more important to do than curling up under a soft blanket and reading myself to sleep.

I am thankful that fashion experts have decided that bangs are in this year (after 20 years, my hair is finally in style!), that ankle boots are in (I’m ready–I bought mine last year!), and that navy blue is this year’s “in” color (my favorite!).  Hippie chick be stylin’!

I am thankful for Salvation Army bell-ringers who brave the cold to collect money for those less fortunate, and I am thankful for all those who so generously donate their time, money, and efforts throughout the year for the benefit of others.

I am thankful for our servicemen and women, past and present, who willingly and bravely fight to guarantee my safety and my freedom.

I am thankful for my humble beginnings–for parents who taught me the importance of education, the value of hard work, the significance of a dollar earned and a dollar saved, and the magnitude of a kind word or gesture.  And I am thankful that my own children were taught the same lessons (although they haven’t quite mastered that “dollar saved” one yet).

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to spend 30 years of my life in a career that I loved–and a career that allowed me to retire at a relatively young age while I can still play and enjoy.

I am thankful for the circumstances that have allowed me to do more traveling in the past year than I have in all the previous years combined.  I am thankful that I spent last Christmas Day with my family on the beaches of California, that I have stood in quiet awe at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and marveled at the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C., that I have watched the sun setting over the Grand Canyon and hot air balloons lifting into the morning sky in Albuquerque, that I have ridden on a motorcycle with my husband through the mountains and deserts of New Mexico, and that I have visited the historic streets of Boston with friends.  I am one lucky girl.

I am thankful for my friends, those I’ve known forever and those I’ve known only for a short time, those I talk to frequently and those I seldom hear from–but whose presence I still feel in my heart.

I am thankful for my extended family, especially all my “in-laws” who readily accepted me into their realm and have always made me feel welcome and loved.

I am thankful for my three incredibly talented, amazingly handsome, wonderfully kind and delightfully clever sons.  And I am thankful for those rare occasions when I can spend time with all three of them at once, listening to their easy camaraderie and raucous laughter (even though their laughter is usually at my expense).

I am thankful for my husband who has seen me at my best and my no-good, terrible, really bad worst–and somehow still loves me anyway.  I am thankful that he rubs my aching shoulders until I fall asleep, eats whatever I cook (even when it’s healthy and bland), brags about me to his friends, and after all these years still wants to surprise me and please me.  Weird.  (But in a good kind of way.)

And I am thankful for my readers, some who have been with me since the beginning and some who have just recently hopped aboard.  Your support, encouragement and insightful comments make me happy and fuel my desire to keep writing.

I have so much goodness in my life, so much for which I am grateful, today and every day–but right now it’s time to take the pumpkin pie out of the oven and put the turkey in.  Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, and may you all be blessed with the comfort of a loving family, the warmth of true friendship, the glow of good health, and the joy of a grateful heart.  And leftover pie for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual . . .
O how I laugh when I think of my vague, indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
–Henry David Thoreau

familyportraitOne of my greatest blessings–my family.
This portrait was taken last Christmas Day on Venice Beach.
Notice the two adults on the left are completely oblivious to the antics
of the “children” on the right.

ConstitutionThe U.S.S. Constitution in Boston Harbor–what a beautiful old ship!

SoldierA soldier in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery–so grateful for these soldiers and for all our servicemen and women.

BalloonSkyHot-air balloons rising over Albuquerque, New Mexico–beautiful!

Ody“Ody” (short for “Odysseus”), my most loyal companion and fiercest protector!

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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23 Responses to The Little Things . . . And the Big Things, Too

  1. Norman Eubank says:

    Well said and we do have so many things to be thankful for. Family, friends, health, and a wonderful place to live. I am so thankful I have you in my life to have shared many of those experiences with you. I am also thankful that you’re a damn good cook and the next few days are going to be awesome with great-tasting food from your kitchen. I may sneak a piece of that pumpkin pie!

  2. Pingback: Families to be Thankful for « pattytmitchell

  3. RayEtta says:

    You hit the nail on the head! The U.S. is not perfect but for the most part we really have it good. Enjoyed your photos, again. The Christmas one on the beach is priceless. I have been to that beach. I hope you find some answers and some relief to the physical ailments soon. Pain is a strange thing……if something hurts it affects everything about you. It affects your mind, your emotions and your body.

    • Thank you, RayEtta, for your kind words. All three of my sons love “hamming it up” for the camera, especially when they can surprise me with their silliness. That was my first trip ever to California, and my goal was to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean on Christmas Day–mission accomplished. As for the physical ailments, things are slowly getting better–I’m just not a very patient person!

  4. emjayandthem says:

    Need a love button for this! That Christmas photo was just the best – the kids acting up made me laugh out loud.

    I’m sorry you are struggling with your health, and I know how draining that can be to live with pain. Your honest and heartfelt reflection of thanks was truly humbling; thank you for that.

    Happy Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to have found your blog more than a year ago 🙂

    • Thanks, MJ! My sons don’t know I posted a photo of them–which would normally be cause for disapproval–but I think they’ll get a kick out of knowing that others found their antics amusing (Mom, who was wanting a nice family portrait, was NOT amused at the time!). Health issues are always draining and annoying, but they also make us realize how much we take for granted when everything is going well.

      I’m glad you found my blog, also, because that led me to yours–which is always uplifting! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  5. A wonderful post – I love the family photo. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and continued blessings this holiday season!

  6. Lili of the Field says:

    Great post, Karen. I’m thankful for the fact that, at three o’clock in the morning, the day after Thanksgiving, I possess the initiative and pro-active mindset to get out of bed, head down to the kitchen, and go crazy with the leftovers. I make a huge turkey sandwich, with stuffing and cranberries crammed between the slices of bread…washed down with a huge glass of ice cold organic milk, and topped off with a huge slice of leftover blueberry pie…and all the while my husband slumbers…my pre-dawn feast is “my time”.

    I am also thankful that I possess the wisdom and determination to stay far, far away from the Black Friday circus and its madding crowds, and my correct choice is brought home whilst watching the news coverage of the barbarian invasion at local department stores…all in the name of acquiring “stuff” and yet more “stuff”.

    And, I’m thankful for stumbling upon your blog, girl!


    • Thank you, Lili! I’m glad you stumbled my way, too! My early-morning feast was a double-sized portion of pumpkin pie with a large glass of iced tea to wash it down, all while lounging in my jammies in the warm comfort of my home while countless other crazies were battling it out at Wal-Marts everywhere. I just can’t think of a single thing I need/want that would propel me into their midst! Enjoy your day!

  7. jjaneswift says:

    Icy-Hot roll-on, pumpkin pie, stuffing with cranberry sauce dolloped on top, these are a few of my gratitude triggering things. And, your blog to end my day, thank you for a good read!

    • Ahhh, stuffing! How could I have forgotten stuffing? The list is endless, really. Thank you, and thank you for stopping by (and please come back!). I just checked out your “Odd Winds to Abba” … intriguing! I will be reading more.

  8. Lili of the Field says:

    Karen, kudos to you for hot ballooning in New Mexico! My husband and I went hot air ballooning in Turkey a couple of months ago. We lifted off at dawn. It was simply spectacular. Nearer my Buddha to thee! 😉

    • Sorry to disappoint, Lili, but we didn’t actually get up in one of the balloons ourselves–we just attended the festival so that I could take pictures. I thought I would be afraid to go up, but after being there and witnessing the spectacular beauty from the ground, I think NEXT time I want to lift off myself . . . I think! But hot air ballooning over Turkey? Wow.

      • Tanya Johnson says:

        GREAT blog Karen! We do have so much to be thankful for 🙂 I think we live in one of the most beautiful places in this great USA!!! By the way, Cindy and Stephanie rode in a hot air balloon when they were in Kenya with mom and dad 🙂 The got to see the sunrise from the balloon and ate a picnic breakfast I believe just over the Tanzania border, or they could see the Tanzania border (I can’t remember what they said) They said it was awesome, and Cindy is not much of an adventurer – of course Stephanie will try anything at least once 😉 I was so jealous of them!!

      • Thank you, Tanya, and you’re right–this place we call home is beautiful, not just the scenery but the people, too. I really don’t think I would want to live anywhere else. And hot air ballooning at sunrise over Kenya? What an amazing adventure for your girls! All three of my boys have done more traveling than I have . . . but I’m working on changing that. 🙂

  9. Mary Fritz says:

    Thank you for wonderful thoughts! Love your blog.

  10. Mark Miller says:

    Many of the things you have blogged about are dear to my heart as well. Thanks for putting them in eloquent form !

  11. bronxboy55 says:

    You got me, right off the bat, with this: “…I forget that those annoyances are also proof of an abundant life.” I’d never thought of it that way, but I will now.

    I’m thankful that this crazy blogging thing has allowed me to find some amazing writers and wonderful friends — and you certainly fit easily into both categories. Thank you also for agreeing to dispense with the paperwork and officially decide that we’re long-lost family. I’m honored.

    Keep taking care of yourself and enjoying those late sleeps. You’re okay. In fact, you’re much more than okay — this post is evidence of that.

    • Thank you, Charles. You always manage to find just the right words to brighten my day. I’m thankful, too, that blogging has expanded my world and introduced me to so many wonderful people who inspire and lift me daily. What a small, beautiful world!

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