A friend of mine posed an interesting question to me this morning – a spin on the normal, “What are you thankful for this holiday?” Her version was, “What unlikely things are you thankful for, and why?”
“What do you mean by unlikely?” I asked, wondering if she knew about my recent binge-watching on Netflix, or my affinity for fuzzy holiday socks.
“I mean, what are the quirky or unexpected things that really make you feel blessed?” she said. “Besides good health, friends and all that typical stuff.”
It’s a good question. I mean, it’s easy to focus on the big things for Thanksgiving, like family, shelter … a 30% coupon at Macy’s. Pinpointing the less obvious forced me to discern and articulate on a deeper level. And I wasn’t even drinking wine.
Quite frankly, once I got started, it was hard for me to stop. It’s amazing, really, the list of pure awesomeness that I came up with. I’m sharing some of my favorites with you here, in hopes that you’ll be inspired to either start your own list, or quietly judge me and spread rumors. It’s totally up to you.
Laughter. And I don’t mean the snorts or the soft chuckles that come with watching animal videos (although those are wonderful). I’m talking about the soul-cleansing belly laughs that come from deep within. The kind that are shared among friends, that leave you gasping for breath and wiping away tears. Laughter makes everything better.
Postcards. I have a silver, metal container about the size of a skinny shoebox hanging on my kitchen wall, in which I have stored hundreds of post cards sent from all over the world. Occasionally I grab a handful and savor the messages, study the stamps and gaze at the covers. Some are photographs, others are whimsical paintings or vintage images. Sure, they remind me of all the places I have yet to visit, which sometimes makes me wistful. But without fail, they remind me of my friends, family and acquaintances, some of whom are no longer a part of my life. And they make me nostalgic for good, old-fashioned penmanship. I hope to receive more this year.
Discovery. While I’ve always been a curious person (some might claim that I ask too many questions, and I can’t say that I blame them), there is nothing like the thrill that comes with discovering something – or someone – new. It might be a story, a fact, a perspective or renewed interest. It might be a person you’ve just met, making you laugh or smile. “Did you know?” is one of my favorite conversation starters, especially when I’m not the one saying it. That moment – when I unearth a colorful tidbit from another human or identify a connection based on shared experiences – can be so powerful and enriching, and in unexpected ways. I’ll take that kind of joy whenever I can get it.
My space. When I moved into a new home almost 18 months ago, I didn’t have many possessions. But with a very limited budget and lots of courage, I slowly managed to accumulate furniture, art and accessories that reflected who I truly was. I took great care to choose fabrics, textures and colors that made me happy. I restored hand-me-down nightstands and beat-up armoires, and became an expert on the magic of chalk paint. I saved coupons, cherished yard sales, and scoured used furniture websites, slowly and painstakingly creating a haven that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And every night when I go to bed, and every morning when the sun filters through the windows, I am grateful for every square inch of it.
Dancing. Whether it’s on a legitimate dance floor or in the middle of my living room (these days, this is far more likely), dancing with wild abandon is my kind of therapy. It doesn’t have to be formal, trendy or elegant (but for the record, I happen to have really good rhythm), it just has to be fun and done with gusto. It can be with a group of friends, alone with a favorite tune, or with someone special in a slow embrace. In many ways, dancing has been a constant beacon in my life – a symbol of independence, truth and authenticity. In my world, if you’re not dancing, you’re not living.
Twinkle lights. When you think about it, twinkle lights are kind of like support bras – they make everything look better. Especially during this time of year, the soft glow of a well-placed strand can transform the mood and comfort the spirit. And to be clear, I don’t discriminate. I find big, chunky bulbs to be just as beautiful as petite, dainty ones. Houses, trees, neighborhoods, porches and living rooms deserve them. Buildings and sidewalks deserve them. Mantels and headboards deserve them. And so do you.
Do You Have Your Own List?
While my list goes on and on, I’d like to hear about yours. What are the unlikely and quirky things you’re grateful for? And why? Please, please, please share them here. Spread the love, and happy Thanksgiving!
©2016 Michelle Freed