Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Specificity of Gratitude

Today is the special day set apart for expressing our gratitude. One of my Facebook friends does this every day, posting a wonderfully detailed and specific list of five small, or not-so-small, things that she is grateful for. I think gratitude is most powerful when it's specific. Not: "I'm grateful for my family, my friends, my work, my health, and my cat." But more like this:

1. I'm grateful for the fact that when I woke up this morning the house already smelled like Thanksgiving, from the lingering aroma of the pumpkin pie that I baked yesterday.

2. I'm grateful that I baked the pie from the same recipe on the Libby canned pumpkin label that my mother used every year, leaving out the cloves the same way that she left out the cloves because our family doesn't like our pumpkin pie too spicy.

3. I'm grateful that Christopher put the pie in the oven for me because I had terrible sloshy visions of its ending up all over the floor, and his steady hands took care of it for me.

4. I'm grateful that Gregory came over from his apartment as the pie was baking and right away saw that the smoke detector in the hall was hanging open, missing its battery, and in five minutes he had a new battery installed.

5. I'm grateful that the crimped pie crust, which turned alarmingly brown after the first fifteen minutes of baking at 425 degrees, did NOT get any browner during the remainder of the baking time because of the protective strips of tin foil that Christopher helped me place around it.

So that is my list on this Thanksgiving morning.

A lot of you know that I have a strange family. We've been badly broken because some of our members have been badly broken. I've been badly broken myself. I love the line Chris Cleave gives his heroine in his novel Incendiary: "I am a woman built on the wreckage of myself." I think I have a family built on the wreckage of itself.

But despite that, we're still a family. Maybe even, because of that, especially a family.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

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