A Month of Thanks Begins Today.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has had effected every friend and family member I have in the New York Metropolitan Area.  Some have had inconveniences like a disruption of TV/Internet service or  power outages.  Other friends have had trees knock down their fences or go through their roofs.  My cousins have a flood in their basement. Several friends have had beach houses they assume are beyond repair. One former colleague cannot go home because the entire first floor of her house is flooded.  But despite the amount of loss people have sustained, there is a common refrain: possessions can be replaced, but we are safe.  They are grateful for what they have despite temporary inconveniences and losses.

This November, more than any other November in the past, I am grateful.  Not just for the physical things (like my home that was not damaged by the super storm), but for people and the little things that make life better.   Therefore, just as I’ve done for the past four Novembers, I am living with extra attention on the things for which I’m grateful.

You may have seen Tweets or Facebook status updates on friends or colleagues feeds the last few Novembers.  They usually begins with the words, “Today I’m thankful for…”  When I write these, I try to keep things positive.  For instance, instead of writing “Today I’m thankful for my coffee not burning me when I spilled it on myself while driving,” (true story), I’d write, “Today I’m thankful for coffee that fuels me and warms me up.”  Easy?  Schmeasy!

Every day in November, I mine my day in order to craft a thankful status update on Facebook.  I approach this task like a writer.  I walk through my day with a heightened awareness – just like I do when I craft slice of life stories. I savor a funny joke or the feel of my daughter’s hand in mine.  This allows me to capture moments and live with a sense of gratitude for the little things.

This afternoon, as my daughter was eating lunch out with me, I found something small for which I was very grateful.  I snapped a photo of her and posted it on Facebook with the following sentence: “I’m thankful for Isabelle’s willingness to try new food combinations.”  This one line turned into a blog post for (family-only) blog I keep about our days together.  In the spirit of sharing (and hopefully inspiring you to try out this month of thanks idea , I’ll share what I wrote on her blog with you.

self-feeding of new foods

Sometimes meals out with you are challenging.  While you’re very social and usually know to behave at a restaurant (most of the time), they’ve become challenging because I don’t know what you want to eat.  You tell me when you’re hungry by signing to me, but you don’t tell me what you want to eat.  Therefore, I have to guess.  And most of the time, I’m a pretty bad guesser.  I’ll give you a choice of two foods and sometimes you won’t want either one.  Not only does this frustrate me, but it turns into a costly endeavor since a wrong guess turns into a wasted meal (which is then brought home in a doggy bag and offered to you again the next day).
This afternoon I decided that were going to eat lunch at Wegmans before we did our grocery shopping.  In an effort to appease you, I took you over to the cold, vegetarian salad bar and asked you what looked good.  You pointed to a few things and shook your head at others.  I put them in a to-go box and hoped for the best.
After we paid for the food with the Marketplace cashier, I wheeled you into the café.  We found a table and I set up our lunch.  I found and cleaned off a high chair and put you in it.  And then I hoped for the best.  I hoped that you’d at least try the items I got you so I wouldn’t have to break out the slices of American cheese and Cheerios I brought from home.  I put the fork to your mouth and you shook your head.  Uh-oh Trouble.  I persevered, offering you another forkful.  But this time the food fell off of the fork.  Therefore, I grabbed for a spoon and tried spooning the food into it.  You immediately opened your mouth and tried it.  You swallowed the barley-chickpea-pepper salad without making a face.  I spooned more and put it to your mouth.  It went down again.  Next I put your hand on the spoon and assisted you as we gathered the food and put it into your mouth.  You swallowed and smiled.  Yes!  We have a winner! And with that thought, you scarfed down most of what I got you for lunch.  And the rest?  The rest came home with us for lunch tomorrow.
Therefore, today, I am thankful for your willingness to try new food combinations.

Clearly you don’t have to write a slice of life story from the sentence you craft as part of 30 Days of Thanks.  However, I figured that in this community of writing teachers, it couldn’t hurt to share an “extension” of this concept.

For more on a month of thanks check out the following:

Will you be taking part in a month of thanks?  Will you Tweet or update a Facebook status with the things you’re thankful for or will you blog about them?