In November, the halls of the elementary school where I taught would be crowded with flocks of construction-paper turkeys. Paper plates, toilet-paper rolls, brown paper-bags made great gobbler bodies. Hand-tracings, crepe paper, or craft sticks added colorful tail feathers. Once I collected cast-off neckties to create a spectacular fan on a bulletin-board bird. From Kindergarten through fourth-grade the students would profess their Thanksgiving gratitude in writing, as well. The young children listed family members and pets on the tail feathers; the oldest composed five-sentence paragraphs on freedom, family, health, or security. I am grateful for those same notions and I realize that many, even in our bountiful country, struggle to claim one of those.
In the spirit of the holiday, I find myself once again thinking of gratitude. Paul often says, “It doesn’t take much to make me happy.” This Thanksgiving week I decide to identify ten small conveniences and comforts in my life, little things that prove “It doesn’t take much to make me happy, either.” Here’s the top ten ranking:
10. The Dust-buster. With the colder weather, we’ve engaged our wood-burner. The simple battery-operated hand vacuum sucks up wood chips, sawdust, and ash in a flash.
9. Electric heating pad. Now that we’re back as regulars at the fitness center, complaining joints and ligaments demand soothing.
8. Netflix. When current political antics leave me distraught I turn on episodes of The West Wing and fantasize that the Bartlet presidency is reality.
7. Salted butter. Always a soft margarine buyer, I switched to butter when I brought home a cut-glass butter dish from my mom’s kitchen. Now I know why my sister Tami raved about real butter all those years.
6. The telephone. And I’m talking basic phone, no text or e-mail. Every day I chat with my dad in Pennsylvania, my son in Canada, and often my friends all over the country. Distance is insignificant.
5. USPS Priority Mail. I called my sister Friday morning to obtain a legal document from the courthouse in Venango County, Pa and mail it to us ASAP. She expedited the task and we received the vital paper at 1:00 the next afternoon, a Saturday. I will hear no complaints regarding the United States Postal Service.
4. Frozen prepared pie crusts. One of these years, I will resurrect my mom’s pie crust recipe and perfect it. But for now when Thanksgiving dinner is often a spontaneous meal, convenience counts.
3. Heated car seats. Next month this could move up to number one.
2. Red Zone. As a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, this network allows me to watch every scoring play of our favorite football team, even when the local networks cover the Giants, the Jets, or the Patriots.
1. The auto-timer on the coffee pot. Last night I filled the pot with water, measured the grounds into the filter, set the timer to 7:00 a.m. I woke to the wonderful savory aroma, motivated to get out of bed and fill a mug.
Think of this, I can start every day with the number one small thing for which I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving.