It could be nature; it could be nurture. Either way, I am a child of the Pacific Northwest. My personality very much reflects the weather of the area: most often grey, drizzly; occasionally, flashes of sparkling sunshine; followed by heavy downpours. Any comic intent aside, darkness has been a struggle for me. So a while ago, I read about keeping a list of things for which I am thankful. I jot down items as they come to mind and take a look at the list now and again to remind me of things that bring me joy. The danger in sharing any specific items from a list like this is the tendency to try to make myself look good; i.e., “Isn’t that sweet…what a wonderful person he must be.” So, I’ll mostly only share a few random items from my list that tend toward the more superficial; but that really do bring me joy: HD TV on a flat-screen; the call of the Northern Flicker; used-book stores, free wi-fi.
Of course, both Bronwyn and Benjamin, our kids, are on the list; and, Andrea, my wife. This week, I’ve added something new specifically related to Andrea, and that is that she has put up with me for 20 years. I really mean that, “put up with me.” I’ve come to the realization of how difficult I have made it for her for two decades. Yet, she has loved me throughout. I’m hoping that I’m making it a lot easier for her these days. Still, I am deeply grateful for her faithful love even when it has been hard.
In addition to this list, years ago a friend taught me, and some other friends, a great game for gratefulness. We had hoped to hang out on Broadway for the afternoon (Capitol Hill, not Manhattan), but slate grey skies, chilling winds, and pouring rain forced us into Charlie’s Restaurant to get something warm to drink. As six of us sat around a table, Miki proclaimed that she had a “great game!” we should play. As she explained it, I cringed. It sounded totally hokey. The idea is to go around the circle with each person sharing one thing at a time that they, “totally” love ( you can probably tell this was the mid ’80’s). Anything is fair game – “Patty Griffin’s music,” “being at the stadium when the Sounders score a goal,” “Kettle Korn,” whatever (those, of course, are more current examples). I have done this with different gatherings of people only a few times since. Every time, though, it has been the same experience: starts a little slowly, people are unsure whether to go “all in” or be cool, then someone mentions something and you think, “Oh, I love that too!” and it reminds you of something else you love. Pretty soon, you want to throw in three of four things at a time so you don’t forget before your next turn.
As I write this, it’s daytime, but soggy clouds block most of the light from the sun. Leaves are scattered across lawns and streets and cars from heavy winds. Plugged gutters have become ponds. And tomorrow is “Thanksgiving.” Some people, very much strangers to me, will have no problem giving thanks tomorrow. Others may need to be more purposeful, like me. Still, even if it is truly only one thing that we can find to be thankful for, I pray that it will be like a seed planted in our hearts. May the rains nourish that seed. May the brief flashes of sparkling sunshine that follow the rains cause the seed to grow, flourish, and provide enough fruit for a feast. I know I have at least one thing to be thankful for; and that is for anyone who has read this far. Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.