Turkey Day is ticking away. It has been a wonderful (emphasis on the full) day. I don’t want to miss the perfect opportunity to write down (well, type up) what I’m grateful for. Here it goes:
FIRST AND FOREMOST: FRIENDS AND FAMILY
I would be nothing, nowhere, and no one without my friends and family. This wonderful group of people includes plenty of complete strangers out there who have shown me random acts of kindness. I owe everything I am to my parents, sisters, brother-in-law, best friends, close friends, distant friends, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, cousins, coworkers and classmates who have shaped my life. While I am always sad when I grow apart from a dear friend, I am very grateful that life is continually filled with new faces. Even though I want to hold onto everyone forever I know that we have to keep trudging down diverging paths.
I am thankful for teachers who have shown me the way and helped me since my earliest memories in pre-school. They cheered me on for every small victory and helped me through anything worth mentioning in my life until I was 23. Even though that is the age I graduated college and my formal education ended, I will always look to teachers as beacons of light scattered along a sometimes dark and discouraging path.
(Disclaimer: The rest of this list is in no particular order)
SECOND: FOOD & CLEAN WATER
I am very grateful for clean water that makes modern hygiene and cooking possible. On my mission I lived in places where untreated tap water posed a potential threat to my health but by some miracle I was able to stay healthy. More than anything I am grateful for fantastic food from vibrant cultures although I will tell you I’ll never turn down a bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Also, if I ever meet the person who invented Hawaiian pizza, I think I’ll kiss them right on the mouth.
THIRD: MATTRESSES, PILLOWS, BLANKETS & SLEEP (& alarm clocks, I guess)
Aaaaahhhh, sleep! Sleep wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if I weren’t surrounded by lovely layers of fluffiness entombing me in an 8-hour cocoon of hibernation heaven. Even though alarm clocks have a bad rap, I definitely rely on mine to get me up in the afternoon (wait, I mean morning). It is much better than worrying about sleeping in. (I consider “sleeping in” having to hit to Snooze button more than six times.)
FOURTH: MODERN TRANSPORTATION
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! Cars? Airplanes? Ships? Trains? Come on people, we live in the best world ever! I LOVE flying and oh my gosh if I didn’t have a car I think I’d just bury my head in the sand. I know there are a ton of other awesome ways to get around (bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, boogie board) but I just don’t think I’d be that motivated to try them out on a daily basis. I’m going to tack “wheelchairs” and “prosthetic limbs” on this list too. I think it is absolutely amazing how much mobility these apparatuses provide to people who may otherwise be rendered immobile. Thank goodness for scientists who dedicate their lives to perfecting the science of all of these vehicles of transportation.
I just realized I left out a biggie: buses. While the efforts of their developers and operators are laudable, I only give buses an honorable mention. There is nothing worse than being bus sick!
FIFTH: MODERN TECHNOLOGY (including Spell Check and dishwashers)
Think of everything that is technological but doesn’t carry people to and fro and you have my fifth hero: modern technology. Thank you to all of the GENIUSES who invented and perfected printing presses, light bulbs, telephones, radios, audio recorders, cameras, computers and the most bodaciously awesome INTERNET. I love it all. Of course, my daily life wouldn’t be complete without kitchen appliances, flushing toilets, and my remote control.
SIXTH: MODERN MEDICINE
I am grateful for vaccines, antibiotics, pain killers, local anesthetic and DENTISTRY. Thank you thank you thank you dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants everywhere who have done your homework and approach potentially terrified patients with confidence and hard-earned knowledge. Same thing goes for orthodontists, oral surgeons and their patient staff. I always loved my dentist growing up and that healthy relationship helped me through five years of orthodontic work that began with an oral surgery when I was 11 and ended with my wisdom teeth extraction when I was 16.
The bulk of my medical experience lies with the “teeth” doctors but I know I will be in great hands when more complex medical issues come my way. My hometown family doctor is a wonderful example of a nurturing family practician who has seen my family through decades of check-ups, sore throats and sniffles. Thanks to him I am confident that I will be in good hands with the physicians I will encounter during the rest of my life.
Although I am often overwhelmed by the amount of things I can choose to do in my downtime, I am very grateful for all of the writers, actors, musicians and artists who come together to create uplifting, inspiring, and eye-opening media. It would be a dream come true to join their ranks. I love television, movies, theater, music, books and art. My life would be very boring without them.
EIGHTH: TRUE BEAUTY
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I guess that means each of us gets to pick how we evaluate beauty. I wish modern society didn’t constantly bludgeon us with an idealized vision of feminine and masculine beauty. We should be able to evaluate beauty on our own terms and not buy in to the lies and illusions that surround us. I am grateful for people who know they are beautiful and refuse to let anyone make them think otherwise. I am grateful for full-figured girls and women who defy society’s standard of stickliness (yes I just made up that word) and walk proud for all to see. People who are brave enough to turn a blind eye to the Barbie/Ken image are my heroes. I need to be more like them.
LAST BUT NEVER LEAST: THE GOSPEL
I will be forever grateful for the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am. Countless people have shown me Christ-like love yet it never ceases to amaze me when I see new examples of it throughout my meager existence. The world is chock full of horrible and sad things. I am so grateful for the hope that Christ brings and the mission he completed for us during his life, death, and resurrection. I know that Christ lives and He will return to this earth one day. It is our choice whether we will be grateful or fearful, thankful or dreadful. I choose to look forward to that day and although I am far from perfect I know we all have the same opportunity to make things right and be glad of heart.
Today my heart is full and I have many people to thank. There are far too many people to name and far too many names to remember. Please know that you make a difference in someone’s life on a daily basis. While a smile may soon be forgotten, harsh words are hard to erase. As we head into the Christmas season do the best you can to uplift those around you. It is better if our kind interactions lift one another up in a cloudy haze of unremarkable pleasantries than if our cutting quarrels bring each other crashing down to a cold hard earth.