Anna June knows that we are thankful for many things. Right before Thanksgiving, her class was polled on what they were thankful for. While other kids were thankful for their grandparents or pets, AJ's answer was "lunchboxes, and toilets (so we don't have to use the bushes)."
I will take responsibility for that one. I remind her sometimes that it wasn't that many generations ago when our ancestors did not have indoor plumbing. The outhouse would have been a cold place to be on a day like today. I am a huge fan of modern conveniences.
Anyway, there's been a social media meme of listing one thing we're thankful for each day in the month of November. Some people I know started out the month doing great, and then tapered off. Some are still going strong. I didn't participate, knowing I'd easily be able to come up with 30 things in a sitting for a blog post at some point in the month. The month is nearly over(!) so I thought I'd better get a move on.
1. Anna June. She is the sweetest, funniest, smartest, prettiest kid ever. I know all moms think that about their daughters, but, though she's not perfect, I think I could make a case.
2. Shenandoah, A.K.A. Ben. He's also not perfect, but he really is the love of my life and brings a lot of joy and humor into my days.
When I first drafted this post, I listed a whole bunch of family members and all that they contribute to my blessed life. And then I started crying and stopped. You each bring your generosity and love into my life, and I can't thank you for it enough. I will focus on things rather than people for the rest of the list, but you must know that I am so very thankful for each of you.
3. My job, where I haven't gotten in trouble yet for blogging too much. I also have a killer parking space, my (mostly) own bathroom, and a window, with my own couch and ac/heat unit. If Ben ever kicks me out, I'll be in my office.
4. My dog, who is not a person, but thinks he is. Bless his heart, he is by turns the most stubborn and the most patient little critter. He is good at snuggling and reminding me to take walks. He's also a good playmate for AJ.
5. Our cars, which, despite recent maintenance issues, are very reliable and almost paid for.
6. AJ's school, where we feel she's learning new things, meeting kids from all different backgrounds, and becoming a big kid before our very eyes.
7. Our church. While it struggles to get members, it still keeps plugging along, and has been our church home for generations.
8. Decaf tea and soda, providing me with options other than water since 2000.
9. Our lovely king size bed. No, we don't have a headboard or perfect linens, but it is ours, and it's a place where we read and snuggle, laugh and cry. And snore and grind our teeth, too.
10. The new down-alternative sherpa fleece reversible comforter that Ben bought us at an after-Thanksgiving sale. It is my new favorite thing.
11. Nights when AJ sleeps through the night - bliss.
12. Food, delicious and plentiful. AJ has brought both her breakfast AND lunch all three days so far this week, and it amazes me that our pantry has such depth to cover these. I still haven't been grocery shopping.
13. Our beautiful house. As any homeowner, we are slowly making improvements when we can. We love having a place to call our own, even if it won't technically be our own for another 20 years.
14. Marriage. Oh, it has its ups and downs, but it is pretty much the best thing that ever happened to either of us. The institution still has a place in our society. It takes a lot of guts to commit to someone forEVER.
15. Generosity. Others have been so generous to us, we can't help but to be generous to others. Recently AJ witnessed me buying lunch for a girl on a field trip at the McWane cafeteria who didn't have enough cash to cover her lunch (she didn't realize a Subway gift card wouldn't work there), and then days later, saw her dad buy lunch for a guy who asked for money on the street. She's seen us donate time, money, clothes and other stuff to charity and to churches. She's seen us support fundraisers and events for a good cause. I hope that this is instilled in her - we are blessed, and should feel called to bless others when we see a need.
16. Blogging. It is a way for me to preserve memories while writing, which is my first love. It helps me keep AJ close to those far away. It helps me take a step back and say, "Hey, what went on yesterday?" Also, I've met a lot of other bloggers in real life and online, and the community here in Birmingham is pretty fantastic. I've updated my blogroll to show some of them off.
17. The Internet, in general. It helps so many things go so much smoother than they did only a few years ago.
18. My iPhone, specifically. It can be a double-edged sword, because I can't put it down sometimes, but it has brought me such entertainment and joy. And AJ, too. Maybe we can get through one night of dinner without our phones. I though we were going to do it a couple of nights ago, but then I thought of something I needed to know and Ben got up from the table and found his to look it up for me.
19. Clothes to keep us warm. It is cold and we are so very lucky that we have been given almost everything is our wardrobes. Again, we're thankful for the generosity of our family.
20. Memories. I am so thankful that through little things, our loved ones who are no longer with us left us with such happy memories. I am wearing a sweater that belonged to my grandmother. I thought of my grandfather's phrase when I was getting out of the shower, lacking something ("I guess we'll have to do like they do across the river - they do without.").
21. Downtime. Does anyone ever get as much as they think they should? I am thankful for each time I get to sit and watch TV or a movie, or read a book, or have a conversation.
22. Date nights - where many of the movies and conversations happen.
23. Our lawn service. I said I wasn't going to mention specific people by name, but our yard man, Mr. Campbell, is my hero of the year. Our summer (and spring and fall) went so much better this year without my nagging Ben to get up early and cut the grass before it got hot. We have a killer, steep yard. Mr. Campbell and his crew are worth every penny.
24. Zumba. I am grateful for being able to move. I hope to attend more often in 2013. I love, love, love our class, instructors, the location, the price, the childcare, the dances, the music - everything. I am grateful that the teacher convinced me to give it a try.
25. Birmingham's parks. While our city and county have their financial issues, I am so grateful that we've seen the building and renovating of Railroad, Avondale and Crestwood Parks in recent memory. Having nice places to go helps me want to get out of the house more, and let AJ go play like kids are supposed to do.
26. Membership to the zoo. I've been more times since we've been members (even though we don't go often enough!) than I had been in my whole life combined. I love being able to go for just a little while and see just a few things and go home when we're tired.
27. Membership to the McWane Center - ditto the zoo thing. It is one of the best places to go. AJ spent nearly 2 hours just at the Clifford exhibit the other day, and then we ate and came home. We loved it.
28. Naps, when they happen.
29. Restaurants, especially Rusty's, which would be my favorite even if it weren't my brother's place. And Chick-fil-A, of course, where we can entertain kids, indulge in our grease addiction, and meet new people (and occasionally see cows).
30. You. Thank you for reading. Your comments and encouragement keep me doing this each day. I love you.
11 hours ago