In the spirit of the new year, I hope you’ll indulge me as I step out of my default melancholy to express my thankfulness.
I am thankful for kindness. It is the kindness that I have witnessed, at times, by those who have no reason to exercise it and get little reward…. Old friends who have stood by me, new friends who have offered themselves, strangers who have done a turn for someone else. As simple as participating in a ‘pay-it-forward’ drive up line at Starbucks, each paying the bill for the driver behind them. The kindness of people working in retail, restaurants, hospitals, clinics and every other service industry, when they don’t know what kind of darkness the day (or their customers) might hurl at them. The kindness of friends who are always there, even when they have travails of their own. The kindness of the staff at my mother’s nursing home, who are paid far below what they deserve, and who come in every day to be a face of tenderness and care, even when they are masked, their smiles invisible except for the kindness in their eyes.
I am thankful for the healing power of the natural world. Even when growing things appear to be sleeping, beauty is all around. Either in the smallest things…
…or in the most grand…
I am thankful for the ability to walk (thank you knees) and appreciate my body as it moves through space. To feel the wind, the rain and the sun on my face, to have experienced the contentment that comes from being a part of the physical world.
To have witnessed the majesty that takes place every single day, somewhere: a glorious sunset, sometimes in front of my own eyes.
I am thankful for my dog Scout, of course. For the way in which she has helped me along, been my constant companion, spoken to me with her eyes and the ways in which I have tried to understand and help her. She is at once a fierce defender but also a scared (and scarred) heart. She needs me and I have needed her.
I am thankful for sweet getaways with friends. I am thankful for the times I’ve had with my very best friends, even if they have to start other lives, far away. It is hard to see them go, not to have them nearby when a dinner or movie was only a phone call away. I treasure and am thankful for each moment we have spent together.
I am thankful for my own family - my dear sisters, my young niece and nephew, my ailing Mom, my departed Dad. Memories of our times together as a family, and now more fractured, but still making time for each other, if not physically then in our hearts.
I am thankful for surviving things I never thought I would: from the pain of someone lost, to the pain of someone departing, to the pain of trying to fix something or someone that was broken.
I am thankful for my job, which although it doesn’t last all year, the seasons I do get to pursue it in give me lasting memories. There is nothing like being able to be amongst the wonders of the natural world, attempting to ensure plants are kept healthy and strong, AND helping to give wonder and beauty to others.
I am thankful to being able to create my own new shady garden, and satisfy my mad planting obsessions while at my own home…the shady garden here is in its infancy, but it is incredibly satisfying to watch as it gets greener and greener…
I am thankful for the man I share this house with, making it a new home, even through all the travails, heartbreaks and brokenness, I am still hopeful for a future with peace and tranquility.
I am thankful for the women around me, some are new neighbours in this new home, and others who I have known for years. They sustain and comfort me.
I am thankful for good food and art, both so necessary to enjoy our time on this planet. It is crucial to stop and savour everything we can, both in our mouths and in our souls, to understand that someone has given great effort, time and love to make these things and that their only ask is that someone else enjoy or appreciate them.
And I am thankful for Stanley Tucci, James Fraser, Georgia O’Keefe, Piet Oudolf and Monty Don, Iris reticulata and Rex begonias, woolen blankets, dark chocolate, a stirring book, bodies of water, the sun’s heat, good coffee and wine. But mostly chocolate.
What are you thankful for?