Full of Grate

The season of gratitude is upon us. I’ve been reading the daily Facebook posts. Some may find them wearing, but I enjoy the reminder to look at life through a different lens — sometimes even one that’s rose-colored. Ultimately, this family has so much — healthy kids, happy marriage, squirrel-chasing dogs, a roof over our heads, cars that run (most of the time), food on the table.

Today, though, I’d like to get grateful for a few out-of-the-ordinary things…

1. My Zip-Front BSU Alumni Sweatshirt.Two sizes too big, it is my oversized security blanket. Every morning when I get out of bed, I reach for it first. If it’s extraordinarily cold, my pretty gray lover has a hood. And I’m not afraid to wear it — even in the school drop-off line — accompanied by my Life is Good PJ pants and my favorite blue fleece socks.

2. Coffee Mugs. I have a thing for them. Chris has put them on the infamous Do-Not-Buy list, but it hasn’t yet stopped me from purchasing another, then another, then another. He brings me a cup of coffee every morning (yes, I’m spoiled), and I love seeing which one he’s chosen for the day. This morning, I’m drinking out of my Heartland Film Festival mug. Bright red and full of cheer, it reminds me of ten magical, movie-filled October days.

3. The Next Paycheck. When we chose careers as educator and writer, we were fairly certain we’d never be bajillionaires. We were a little unprepared, however, for just how damn expensive life with four kids can be. (Someday, we’d at least like to be thousandaires.) When the checkbook balance gets precariously low and everyone needs lunch money and the next payment for the 6th grade trip is due and the oil needs to be changed and we’re existing on Cheerios and brown rice and the dogs’ daily rations are getting smaller (out of necessity, not girth), and the gas bill is double the amount it was last month, it feels like financial quicksand. But with two steady, reliable jobs and various and sundry freelance contracts, the next paycheck is rarely more than ten days away… even if that money is already spent before it arrives. The job of mine that keeps the lights on and insures my kids is not one that feeds my soul. In fact, sometimes it nibbles incessantly at my innards, causing me to gnash my teeth and drink too much wine. I complain about it a great deal. But I’d complain about it more if I didn’t have it. Isn’t that the key to so much? Appreciating what you have before it’s no longer yours to appreciate?

4. Do-Overs. Our youngest is what we like to call “dramatic.” With very little provocation, he creates the ultimate foofaraw. (Look it up. I’m guessing his picture is next to the dictionary entry.) This weekend, we painted a couple of rooms in our home. The kitchen was not yet put back together, so we ate dinner in our fresh, autumnal orange family room. George’s spot on the couch was commandeered (“But I quacked it!!!” As in, “Quack, Quack, Seat Back.” Thanks, Megan.), a fight ensued, blankets were whipped about, drinks were spilled. In one of my not-so-proud moments, I yelled, “That was a perfect example of your classic Escalation of Bullshit!” Chris had to leave the room so the kids wouldn’t see him laugh. It slipped out, the bullshit. Sometimes I lose myself in the moment. But what I’m grateful for is that we all get to be forgiven, that we all move forward, and that “Escalation of BS” will now be part of the Willis family lore.

5. Choices. I am grateful that every moment, we get a choice. We can choose to be better parents, better spouses, better lovers, better friends, better givers, better human beings. I am grateful that every day is a fresh start, that we are not defined by what happened the day before — or even the minute before. That every moment is a brand new opportunity to do better, to be better.

And ultimately, to love better.

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