Grateful for…

After yesterday’s Thanksgiving post, someone commented that yes we have lots to be grateful for – like being alive.

I’ve never been a big one for the “let’s be grateful for being alive!” business. I mean, only someone who isn’t just alive would say that. Because if you were merely alive, with no pleasure at all except the dubious one of being alive, you probably wouldn’t be grateful for it. People want to live for a reason, not for the sake of life itself. (And usually it’s not the sake of life so much as the fear of what dreams may come when we shuffle off this mortal coil.)

Also, with all due respect to the commenter and all the people who go on about being grateful for being alive, I think it’s lazy to be grateful only for the big obvious things. We’re given so many gifts in life: we ought to appreciate them. Because if we don’t – well, then we deserve to have them disappear.

To illustrate, the commentators brings the following parable and explanation:

A shana-rishona wife makes her husband a seven-course meal. She serves it up and what does he do? He smiles and says “I’m so lucky to be married to you.”

Yes, a wife wants to hear that. But save it for the pizza nights. Right now she’d like you to please take a moment to appreciate the delicate balance of flavor in the butternut squash soup that took  seven hours, four pots, and most of the spice rack to make. It would be in order to marvel  a bit at her skill and say “oh you shouldn’t have – but I’m glad you did. This is amazing.

If he doesn’t seem to care, well, no more butternut squash soup for him. Being married to her will have to do.

So –

Things I am thankful for:

  • The heightened color of tree bark when it rains
  • Pictures of cute fuzzy animals with funny captions
  • Humanity’s infinite capacity for creativity and humor
  • Being cozy indoors on cold rainy nights
  • Seasons, so the weather is always an interesting subject
  • USB flash drives (remember the days of rewritable CDs?)
  • Short and clever divrei Torah
  • Good novels that keep you reading into the early morning because you have to see how it’s going to end
  • Shoes! No, not as in “things that keep your feet warm and dry” (they don’t always) but as in “pretty things that are fun to buy and wear”
  • Family game nights
  • downhill – a recent invention (if grandma’s stories about getting to school are anything to go by) which affords us the best parts of sledding, skiing, skating, biking, rolling down hills, and hypermiling. (Why do people say “it was all downhill from there”? That should mean “it was easy coasting.”)
  • Those friends you can always count on
  • Variety – the spice of life (and spice, for that matter)
  • partly-cloudy skies (because the patterns are so pretty)
  • Water in every form: crisp and cool in a glass, rolling in to shore as a wave, roaring over a falls, splashing down a riverbed, splatting down into puddles on warm summer afternoons, shooting out of sprinklers that you run through, floating across the polar oceans, steaming from a mug of tea or the jets of a hot shower, frozen under your skates, lapping against the walls of a clean blue swimming pool…
  • All the best traits of people: compassion, sociability, curiosity, ambitious discontent, etc.
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 5
  • Kinfauna
  • The silly way ducks turn rump-up when they’re feeding
  • The way everyone around the world eats Swiss fudge cookies the same way

Okay, I’ll stop here. What am I leaving out?