It is 63 degrees in my house (I just turned the heat on), and I am in bed bundled in a sweater and under as many blankets as I could reach without getting up. Silas -- bless him -- just delivered a cup of tea.
Out the window, the sky is brightening to cottony white, and on the tree that fills half the window, the lemons are finally yellowing.
Today is Thanksgiving.
Naturally, I am thinking about being thankful. Study after study have shown gratitude is healthful and transformative (Forbes article, Huffington Post , NPR, Ann Voskamp) -- and I've wondered about this.
It's easy for me to crank out a list:
clean running water
a house with thick walls
clothes that are warm and I get to choose
siblings and parents I'd choose
a car to drive
sunsets, how much the sky speaks
stunning physical beauty
teachers of all sorts
hearing my kids laugh
scent of brininess in the air
...I can keep this going for a long time. I like brainstorming thankful lists. When I can't sleep at night, I go through the alphabet and list as many things as I can for each letter that I'm thankful for:
and almost always fall asleep before F.
List as I may, though, I rarely feel impacted by the exercise, even when I try to deliberately be thankful in the midst of a funk, even after embracing Ann Voskamp's 1,000 gifts challenge (keep a running list of what you're thankful for all the way to 1,000 things; it transformed her) -- nothing's "happened."
I remember my mom telling me a story about walking down the bike path one day and being grateful for her feet. As she walked she kept thinking about her feet -- the wonder of how they held her body, their lack of pain, the distance she could journey on them, what it would be like *not* to have feet or healthy feet, and she finally was in tears, grateful for her feet.
I think she was on to something.
Listing the things I'm thankful for verses steeping in thankfulness and *experiencing* it is different. Every morning I have to wait for my tea bag to steep and turn my water into tea. This takes time, which I'm realizing I seldom bring time to my thanks.
I'm also thinking about how the power of an address -- eye contact, in undivided attention, speaking to someone personally. It feel different when I'm thankful for my kids and when I take Eden's face in my hands and tell her how I'm thankful for her. It's different to vaguely be thankful for the streaks of color across the sky and to thank the Creator for it, and stop there for a minute.
Today I probably won't pause much; I have a turkey trot to walk, coffee to drink with friends, fruits and vegetables to spray paint for the center pieces, parades and football to watch, and of course much to eat with people we love. But, as I move from here to Christmas -- the wildly paced season of want and do and shop and give and make and -- and then into a new year, I'd like to steep more, turn to tea.