All of my Facebook friends lately are doing this “Month of Gratitude” thing in which they list off what they are thankful for every single day. I am late to the Facebook party – I didn’t catch on that this was, like, a thing until probably Nov. 5, so I was already five days behind. I decided to rectify that by listing things for which I am thankful here instead.

It goes without saying that I am thankful for the big things: my family, my health, my family’s health, my job, my city, my friends. In one of my favorite books from childhood (and still now), Beverly Cleary’s Emily’s Runaway Imagination, Emily distinguishes between wishes and faith when she gets the wishbone at a church potluck: “She would wish for a copy of Black Beauty because that was a little, selfish wish. Faith was for big, unselfish things like a library for the whole town.” My list is mostly full of little, selfish things that make my life better, with a few big, unselfish ones thrown in, too. I’m doing 16 to get me current.

  1. Clean sheets. The various products out there – candles, dryer sheets, air fresheners – that claim to be “Fresh Linen” scented don’t even come close to capturing the essence of the first night on clean sheets, smelling just slightly bleachy and feeling delightfully free of dead skin cells.

  2. La Croix.  In another one of my favorite books from many years ago (not childhood but late adolescence, and no, it hasn’t held up quite as well as Emily’s Runaway Imagination), Nancy Lemann’s Lives of the Saints, the protagonist declares, “Southerners need carbonation.” I can’t speak for all of us, but I personally can’t make it through a day without some kind of fizzy water. This stuff is ideal – no calories, no fake sweetener, just a hint of flavor and a whole lot of fizz. I am borderline obsessed.

  3. Good coffee. If I can’t make it through a day without fizzy water, I absolutely can’t make it through a day without coffee. And the coffee in New Orleans just runs circles around the vaguely coffee-flavored water I got in Missouri. I know this makes me sound kind of simple, but many nights I think to myself, “Hey, I get to have coffee again tomorrow morning!” And I smile.

  4. Superglue. Ruby breaks a lot of things. Superglue makes me seem like magic to her – I am her mom, and I can fix anything. I have glued Princess Tiana’s head back on twice now. I love having that kind of power.

  5. Mornings with Ruby. I shake her awake with enticements of French toast sticks, get her dressed while we watch Strawberry Shortcake and then hustle her to the car with barely enough time to make it to school before the bell. She chatters at me nonstop as we drive, and I listen with half an ear as I watch the clock and navigate traffic and shift gears and drink coffee. It’s busy and rushed and stressful and wonderful; it makes me feel like a mom.

  6. Mornings without Ruby. Some mornings, she’s with her dad instead. Shared custody sucks; I’m not going to sugarcoat it. But I still enjoy my more leisurely mornings when I don’t have to have her to school by 8. I play with the baby. I fold laundry. I get work done. I get to make sure my clothes match; sometimes I actually even put on makeup.

  7. The fact that my friends in several states can now get married. I don’t often get political here, but I am so thankful – and so proud of America in general – that gay marriage passed in the last election.

  8. Yoga pants. They look enough like pants that I can wear them to work, but they feel enough like sweatpants that I don’t immediately want to take them off. They were perfect as early maternity/early postpartum clothes, and now I just wear them because no one has explicitly told me yet that they’re not “business casual.” And no, I don’t do yoga. Yoga actually stresses me out – I can’t do the positions right, and I am hopeless at meditation. Yoga pants, though, are perfect.

  9. Girls’ night. Earlier this week, my husband had to go on a business trip, and so I had a blissful night with just my daughters, my mom and my mother-in-law. My husband is an excellent cook who makes elaborate weeknight meals, and that’s terrific; don’t get me wrong. But in his absence, we had chili-cheese burritos and ice cream sandwiches, and that was pretty terrific, too. Then I let Ruby climb into bed with me, and at some point, the baby ended up there, too, and I woke up snuggled between my two girls.

  10. Lunchables. This one is terrible. I swore I would never let my kids eat this crap – processed meat, processed cheese, artificial everything. But man, some days I just can’t make another peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread with the crusts cut off.

  11. Trashy mystery novels. With a 5-year-old and a 5-month-old, I don’t get a ton of alone time. After they are both asleep at around 9, I have a flurry of activity readying everything for the next morning – uniform washed and laid out, shoelaces unknotted, lunch made, homework folder replaced in backpack. My reward at the end of each very long day is a chapter (or however much I can stay awake for) of a truly mindless book.

  12. Church. We’re planning to get Georgia baptized soon, so we’ve started going to church again, and I was surprised to realize how much I’d missed it. I really like the rituals and the sense of community. And I’m very much enjoying sharing it with Ruby, who loudly asked at the first service we attended, “When do we eat the cracker with Jesus’ soul in it?”

  13. Hoarded Triaminic strips. Triaminic, for some ridiculous reason that I take insanely personally, stopped making pink and purple cough medicine strips. They are the only way Ruby will take medicine. I have about eight left, plus a few more that we stole out of my in-laws’ bathroom cabinet. They don’t expire until this summer, so I am hopeful they will see us faithfully through one more cold and flu season.

  14. My DVR. The ability to watch Forensic Files on my own time table is, quite honestly, life-changing, to say nothing of how great it is to be able to pull up Ruby’s favorite shows at the touch of a button. Just like I erroneously insert my cell phone into memories (“Huh, I’m not sure why we didn’t call AAA on our cell phone when we ran out of gas that time back in 1993 …”), I simply can’t even imagine a time before DVR technology. How did we live like that?!

  15. Thursday afternoons with Ruby. In my twilight years, when dementia sets in, I hope that I am perpetually back on a Thursday afternoon in the early autumn of 2012, walking Ruby to her weekly gymnastics class while pushing Georgia in the stroller. The light is just right, sort of bluish-greenish-golden. The air is just cool enough. The baby is cooing happily while Ruby runs ahead of me singing, “Feliciana LeRoux, whatcha gonna do? You got an alligator chasin’ after you!” and I yell, “Stop at the corner, Ruby!” and she waits until I catch up and then holds my hand across the street and then takes off again running and skipping and singing. These are the days people are talking about when they lament how fast it all goes by.

  16. I love my job. I love confessional writing. I love documenting everything and sharing it with you all. But I am not going to lie: I am really thankful to have next week off.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Feel free to share in the comments what you’re thankful for this year.