Today is Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday. At this moment, Weems and I are preparing to welcome our friend Liz to share Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy reruns of Punkin Chunkin’ and The Curse of Oak Island. While Weems is working in the kitchen, I began to ponder what the day is all about and all of the blessings in my life. We all have many reasons to be thankful.
Wale Ayeni said, “Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairytale.”
I know many of my friends are going through difficult times, but I ask you today to think about the good things in your life. Often, with the passage of time, we find out that the bad things were blessings in disguise. In 1972 my sister moved back home with a CAT! It was the end of the world. (My family didn’t like cats. I was afraid of them.) Nope. It was the birth of a passion that would change me and give me everything that is great and happy now. Thirty years ago, I thought my Ex moving out signaled the end of the world, but it was really the beginning of a much happier life.
I often take the good things for granted and dwell on the bad. Today I want to dwell on the good. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are the things I am grateful for. Maybe my list will help you remember what you are grateful for. I love y’all. Please leave what you’re thankful for in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving!
I am thankful:
1. To have been born in the United States. While not perfect, we experience a peaceful transfer of power every four to eight years. Sometimes I am happy about that transfer of power. Sometimes, not so much. I often take the freedom I enjoy for granted—the freedom to express my thoughts, to protect myself, to worship (or not) in the way I want, to go into the line of work that most suits me or makes me happiest.
2. For all of our patriots: the brave members of military, who give up time with their own families, who miss baby’s first steps and piano recitals, wedding anniversaries and the birth of their babies to protect us and keep this great country safe.
3. Civilian first responders. More Heroes.
4. My husband, best friend and soul mate, Weems. The best day of my life was the day I met you. Any day with you is the next best day.
5. My family. Dad, Mom, Margaret, Art. I have a brother and sister who I love and they return the favor. For better or worse, we made each other who we are today. I think we turned out pretty well. Yes, there was drama, but even that’s a gift. Think about all the fodder I have for future novels. My sister is the heart of our family; my brother the brains and logic. I’m grateful for a father who was a patriot and who wasn’t afraid to tell me he loved me. I’m grateful for a mom who was there every afternoon when I got home from school.
6. I still have my 97-year-old mom.
7. My life and health. In a sense I am even grateful for those new aches that come with age. My dear friends Jim and Vicki never lived long enough to experience those aches.
8. My friends. My rocks, my sounding boards, my escapes. You were always there when I needed you. In 1968, Debbie and I will have been friends for 50 years. (I wish I could say we met when we were in diapers.) Since meeting Debbie I have blessed with so many new friends. I love y’all.
9. Cats. People say I save cats, but the truth is, they saved me. What an empty world I would live in without them.
10. Veterinarians. I two amazing veterinarians who keep my kitties happy and healthy. Thank you Cassie Epstein and Cindy Rigoni.
11. Paw prints. Squee.
12. Animals. Any animal.
13. For the blessing and curse of being a writer. Ernest Hemingway said it best. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
I am thankful that my writing makes a difference in people’s lives. I get to make a living doing what I enjoy. I get to play for a living.
14. My teachers, especially my four most influential teachers. Mrs. Fleire, my third grade teacher, who gave us an assignment to write a short story. That was the homework that ignited my love of writing. John Beard, my sixth grade teacher, gave all his students nicknames. I was The Dictionary. Thanks Mr. B. My senior year in high school I walked into Martha Schipul’s creative writing class. She understood she had an aspiring writer on her hands and did everything possible to nurture that. Martha gave me different assignments from the rest of the class. I loved her. Still do. Then there was Sonya, my English 101 instructor at Brookhaven. Like Mrs. Schipul, she gave me different, more challenging homework.
15. Animal rescuers. You save animals and help people. You make a difference.
16. Cat Writers’ Association. I joined 21 years ago. I’m grateful for the mentors, the contacts, the experts and enthusiasts and, most of all, the lifelong friends and my Sister by Another Mother. We’re a family.
17. My favorite movies. The ones I watch over and over again when I need a lift, Casablanca, Airplane, Blazin’ Saddles, Tremors 1-5.
18. Books. Other authors gave me the will to write and shared their knowledge. Douglas Adams, Charles Portis, Sophia Yin, Amy Shojai, Arden Moore, Selina Rosen, Julia, Linda, Rhonda, your books fill my walls and my heart.
19. Occasional travel. I love seeing new places and things.
20. Emails from my readers. Wow. People actually read my work! Who knew?
21. Sushi. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be sushi.
22. Bling. Sparkly dress. Shoot, anything that glimmers.
23. Memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with my family. I can still smell the fragrance of turkey and my mother’s version of Grandmother’s Swedish dressing. It looked like mud, but tasted like Heaven. Wait, I’m smelling the turkey Weems is preparing.
24. Weems’ amazing Barbecue. Thank you, Johnny Trigg.
25. Chocolate anything.
26. Coffee. My favorite is salted caramel from Winco. Sometimes Weems brings me coffee in bed. Simply Heaven.
27. Compassionate people. People who leave the dinner table to rescue an injured animal, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Who give a stranger a flower, just because it looked like she needed it.
28. Adult beverages. Wine, beer, chocolate martinis.
29. Writers and bloggers who use proper grammar and know the difference between “your” and “you’re.”
30. Mobile phones and caller I.D. Take that robocallers and solicitors!
31. Memories of going to movies with my dad. I remember watching Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines in the Cinema 1 & 2 and laughing so hard my cheeks ached. Whenever I see Patton or The Longest Day, I can almost feel Daddy beside me.
32. The smell of lavender. Real lavender, not a chemical version of it.
33. My readers. The animal rescuers, the dreamers, the geeks. I love all of you. You inspire me when I’m down. Thank you each and every one of you for reading my blog, Facebook posts, books and articles. A writer without readers is just a crazy person talking to herself. I love making people laugh and sharing information that will make people or kitties’ lives better. It’s hard to believe that helping people with their cats has become my occupation.
34. Amazing Grace. Being born at this time and place in history. At no earlier time could humans get up in the morning moderately secure that they would be able to climb into bed that night. Between marauders, criminals, war, illness, accident or predation, another day was never promised. How amazing that we that we can plan next week, next year and even the next decade. We are truly blessed.