Many of my friends talked about gratitude on their blogs or on their Facebook pages for Thanksgiving. Well, as usual, I procrastinated on this subject! The reason was not because I have nothing to be grateful for, certainly, but rather because I was very busy getting ready for the holiday and our trip to Boston. And then when we got home I had to rev into Christmas mode (also because I procrastinated...I am sensing a New Year's resolution coming on here!) and do all the decorating and shopping and baking and mailing. However, now is also an appropriate time for gratitude, since the year is drawing to a close. Time to take stock and realize how good life is and all that....so I am going to make a VERY long list of all the things I am grateful for, and I warn you they will range from the obvious to the minute details, so you may want to bring a pillow in case you fall asleep!
* The first one is, obviously, Matt. He is my best friend and my husband, and without him life would be dull and dreary. He makes me laugh, he makes me think, and he makes me mad! Which really are three of the most important things in life, I think.
* Naturally my children rank a very close second. How could I be the person I am without them? Each one is unique, even though they have similar personalities and habits. Each one is a precious person--even when they make me want to scream. Because that is, after all, their reason for being--to make their parents unable to decide whether they should smother them with kisses or just smother them!
* The third would be my extended family. My parents, who are wonderful, supportive and really just the best parents I could ever imagine. My sisters, brothers, their spouses and all my nieces and nephews (plus my 2 nephews-in-law and my darling grand-niece-and nephew!) are just each and every one a joy to know. I am unbelievably lucky to love every member of my family and to enjoy spending time with them--it sounds very corny, but I know so many people who truly don't enjoy spending time with their extended families, who fight all the time with them and have these feuds and bicker and complain about them. I can honestly say that my family gets along (and we disagree strenously on many issues such as religion and politics--we still treat each other civilly and respect each others' beliefs) and really likes to spend time together, and I treasure that.
* Coffee. Do I really have to expound on that?
* Homeschooling. Yes, I have many days where I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I agreed to keep my children with me pretty much 24/7 till the age of eighteen! There are days when I feel burned out and overburdened and just want time to myself and look at the school bus with longing. But at the end of the day, I know that what we are doing for our kids is the best for them, that they are enjoying life so much more than they would stuck in a classroom all day, and that they are learning so much more too. And I also realize how quickly they will be grown and on their own, and it makes me want to treasure the time with them. Even when I feel like the biggest harpy on the planet!
* Friends, old and new. I have met many wonderful people since moving here to Long Island nine years ago. Many of them homeschoolers, some who are not. They are really just a bunch of supportive, terrific people that I am happy to surround myself with. And some of them I know I will be friends with for life, even if our lives pull us physically from each other. This ties into my next item:
* Facebook. I have taken SO much ribbing from Matt and certain brothers-in-law I know, and yet, joining Facebook this fall has really brought me joy. I have come back into contact with many old friends from grammar school, high school and college, and forgotten how much I loved them. Keeping in contact is difficult--visiting is hard because of distance and vacation time is limited. Phones are wonderful, but you have to find time where both parties are home and can chat (in peace!!!) Letters are nice, but who has the time? Email is great too--but it's hard to remember to keep in touch if the other person is not a great correspondent. Facebook, on the other hand---fantastic! I write emails, IM with friends, we send each other silly gifts, drinks, hugs and smiles, play games together and reconnect. We even plan reunions. These are people I have always kept in my mind, but never pursued, and I am overjoyed to see that they are all the same people I loved back then! If you are not on Facebook, you should join. And then you should find me there!
* My pets. They drive me batty, but they are sweet and loving.
* A warm house and good food, and knowing that my husband's job is recession-proof.
* Knowing that Matt adores his job. This is important, because I really believe that you should love what you do, and I am glad that Matt always loves his work and that he spends his days happy.
* A beautiful place to live. I love my house, and I love this part of Long Island. We really have everything we could want on this tiny piece of land--gorgeous beaches, wildlife, farms, orchards, vineyards, a country type of life--but any sort of city amusements we want right at hand.
* Good neighbors. We live in a part of the country where this cannot go unappreciated! Many many northeasterners live in places where their neighbors want nothing to do with them--and that was the case in our last house, which was across town! We now live in a neighborhood where we talk to our neighbors, help each other, and if I need a cup of sugar or someone to feed the chickens while we're away, I have people to ask!
* Good health. This is something nobody should take for granted. I know a lot of people whose kids have chronic illnesses, people who have cancer or other diseases that just ruin their quality of life, and I am grateful that my family is not in that boat. In fact, we have the constitution of horses! (But I am making 2009 the year that I catch up on all my medical checkups, anyway...yet another procrastination issue with me.)
* Love of cooking. Both Matt and I love to cook and bake, and I have realized that not everyone does. I am happy that we do and that we have good meals and desserts because of it!
* Creativity, imagination and intelligence. I am happy that my family uses their minds and their talents, enjoys learning new things, and takes pride in their abilities.
* Good books. I just love good books!
* Music. There is not enough music in the world for me, and I just couldn't live without it.
* Photo albums. I was paging through the albums last night, looking at pictures of Matt and I when we first met, our wedding, our early days in Boston, Rachel and Julia as babies, toddlers and preschoolers....and then Ben joining the brood. Unfortunately after he was about 18 months we got a digital camera and now I have everything on disk and not in albums! (another resolution, I guess!) But it was wonderful to see my kids back when they were tiny, to relive those days and all the fun we had, and see how they have changed and yet not changed. I love photos!
* Summer fruits. Boy, I miss them! But we still have two peach pies in the freezer.
* Jon Stewart. He kept me in stitches all through the election process, and I think he is one of the most talented people on TV.
* Politics this year. I am not going to go into a diatribe here, but I am unbelievably happy that things worked out the way they have and that we will move forward with the first African American president--it makes me proud to be an American for the first time in YEARS!
* Hot showers. There just isn't much better than a shower when you need one, is there?
* Online shopping. I really love the fact that I can shop for anything I need at any time of day or night and have it arrive on my doorstep a day or two later--and that so many places offer free shipping that you don't even have to pay extra!
* Christmas trees. There is just something so wonderful about the tree every year. The piney smell, the familiar decorations with stories to tell, the ritual of choosing it and decorating it, the presents under it, the kids' excitement. I love it.
* Having a fireplace. I am so glad Matt and I thought of the fact that we really didn't want to live in a home without a fireplace. We get so much enjoyment out of it. And really, without a fireplace, the stockings are just no fun!
* The Beatles. I know I already did music, but I am a big Beatles fan and it makes me happy that their music is still so widely played and loved forty years after the fact.
* Purses and shoes. I just love new purses and shoes. More so than any other items of clothing, they are just fun to buy! Even though my husband complains about it.
* Movie quotes. Matt and I have known each other since we were 18 eyars old, so we have seen a lot of movies together, and there is just something nice and comforting about quoting movies to each other.
* Netflix. Speaking of movies, I am so happy we joined Netflix! It's great to have a no-hassle way to see movies that we would otherwise miss.
* Movie theaters. But even with Netflix, I love going to the theater and seing movies!
* A daughter old enough to babysit. Rachel is now comfortable staying with the kids in the evening. Which means Matt and I can go out occasionally, something we never got to do when the kids were younger, and something we really love to do.
* Fresh manicures. There is just something great about nails when they are pretty and polished--even if it never lasts long enough!
* A gym membership. That is my Christmas present this year, and I am so excited!
* Bagels. Real ones, warm from the oven. We had those over this past weekend when we were visiting my parents, and it is heaven.
* Kids' responses to questions. I asked Emma what she was grateful for, and she immediately, without any hesitation, said: "You! And Daddy and Rachel and Julia and Ben and Grandma and Poppy. My whole family!"
Really, I could go on and on. But I promised to play Monopoly Jr. with Ben and Emma. And my hands are hurting! And I'm sure you have lost interest anyway......peace and joy in 2009!