The Power of Gratitude

Hey Four!

Today is Thanksgiving!  I will obviously focus on things that I am grateful for.  This, like other things that I am writing right now, is something that has changed and will continue to change over time.  When I was little I was grateful for getting toys and going to Disney World.  Now that I am older, and also now that the real possibility of becoming a mom is happening, my gratitude list is quite different.

I will start with the 2016 list….I am grateful for:

  • Finding and falling in love with you dad and the health of our marriage
  • The support and love of his family
  • The continued support and love of my family
  • All four soon-to-be GPs’ health and vitality
  • Aunt D’s awesomeness and great friendship
  • This wonderful home
  • Our adorable cats
  • Living near a good hospital with great doctors
  • Living in a really great place with so many fun events and great schools
  • Having a job where I work with great co-workers and clients
  • Having good food available and nourishing the both of us
  • My education and colorful life experiences
  • My God-given talents
  • Being mentally and physically strong (despite my current bedrest situation)
  • Some really great fall weather this year
  • The Cubs winning the World Series…finally
  • For things that have made me laugh (and cry-laugh)

and of course…

YOU!  For this miracle of life we are so blessed to have a chance at welcoming into this blessed life!

Also I wanted to tell you about some fun Thanksgiving things that I look forward to from year to year.  I LOVE watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  When were we little girls, Aunt J, Aunt A, and me would wake up early at GGF’s to have a delicious breakfast, which smelled of turkey because she was awake earlier than us to start cooking, and we would watch the parade with such focus.  We loved it.  GGV would be in his chair drinking coffee and always display a huge show of enthusiasm when the parade featured the Radio City Hall Rockettes.  I used to just brew coffee at my house when I was living on my own.  I would still watch the parade and the smell of coffee (which I wouldn’t drink) would take me right back to the warm, cozy feeling I loved from my childhood.  I also used to draw and color funny Thanksgiving cartoons.  I wish I could find those considering how much other stuff I have saved.  I would have stories of turkeys getting their freedom or disguising themselves to escape the Thanksgiving doom.  As I got older I always tried to find something that would take me back to the love of turkeys.  I used to run a tennis tournament each Thanksgiving.  I found this fun stuffed turkey that makes a gobble noise and wobbles when you press a button on its wing.  I had that at the tournaments and players messed with that all the time.  When I taught school, the turkey came out the day before Thanksgiving and the kids loved it.  Now it is out as a decoration and I hope you will play with it sometime.  There is something so cute and funny about turkeys.  Additionally, I love the color orange.  It was half of my college colors at U of I, it is found in a lot of my kitchen ware, and I like it for how cheerful it makes me feel.  During Thanksgiving I decorate with a lot of orange.  Orange feels so warm and then when we switch to all of the winter/Christmas decorations, that shift stands out even better too.  There is the smell of all the Thanksgiving cooking to look forward to as well.  This year, your dad is smoking a turkey and the smell of the smoker is great!  It makes my mouth water hours before the food is ready.  Because Thanksgiving cooking can be an all morning long process, the smells are just super yummy and enhance a feeling of home.  Mostly, I like that I can be fortunate enough to look forward to seeing family each Thanksgiving.  Not everyone can be so blessed.  If I can get my act together and have the means to do so, I would like to eventually volunteer where my help could be best used on a holiday.  I enjoy that the holiday season is a time when we take stock in what we have and try to do nice things for people who aren’t as fortunate.

True story: one time when I was working in downtown Chicago I did a pretty nice thing.  I used to take Lower Wacker Drive to and from work, and in the winter, that area is a hangout for many homeless people.  I had just been given a couple of leftover large client gifts that had all kinds of great food and drink treats in them.  These were fancy holiday gifts that the company I worked for gave out to the company’s business clients and the company’s workers.  There were extra baskets and the president gave them to me (since I had assembled them).  I remember driving home from work and just pulling over into an area by dumpsters where about a dozen homeless people were huddled together on a cold night.  I put two of these fancy baskets before them and got back in the car.  I know that they were able to make great use of that excess.  That is one example of how I have given back.  I have done more and maybe I will write about that later, but the idea of giving to people who need it most is very important.  I hope that you can be a good giver my baby.  I see these stories on the news at this time of year that feature young people (like jr, high and high school aged) who have coordinated and produced amazing charitable efforts.  I think about the spirit of these kids and hope that you will have a capacity of compassion like that.  Even if MR, one of the players I used to coach and still keep in touch with, does not get Godfather status, he will be a person I want you to know.  He has a gigantic heart and has dedicated much of his young life to service of people less fortunate.  I want you to hear his stories about where his volunteering has taken him.  He, and other people I know, have shown how this act of giving is an amazing life-shaping force in not only the life of the person giving, but also the people who so need the help.

I believe that both thinking about and demonstrating gratitude is important.  It is so easy to fall into a daily routine that keeps the focus of life turned inward.  Volunteering is a great balance to that inward living mode that can so easily take over.  Your GPs and Aunt D are good about volunteering.  Your dad is too, but he will be short for time once you get here.  I hope that we can do some really great volunteering things with you, especially in contrast to all of the attention and star power you will experience as an only child/1st grandchild.  I hope that the love we shower on you will only fill you with so much warmth that you burst and need to share it with the rest of the world!

Our home looks so beautiful right now.  I am taking pictures.  We put our little Boy pumpkin on the centerpiece of the table.  It looks great there and what a nice symbol of you being with us!  So today, we have family here, awesome food that everyone made, people thinking and talking about you, our thoughts wandering forward to our hopes to share future holidays with you, while our memories carry us back to happy times with people we still count lucky to have and people who we hold in our hearts.  I hope that the taste of this meal is yummy in whatever way you experience it.  I will try to not eat too much, but these maternity pants are pretty accommodating for Turkey Day indulgence!

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