Loving: A Novel By Corin Hughs

Thankfulness: More than the Typical Stuff

Micayla made this in her first grade class this week. She’s thankful for our dog. Cute, right? I can understand a kid being thankful for their pet dog. It’s sweet. Understandable. Dogs are great companions for kids.turkey

But…

We don’t have a dog!

We’ve never had a dog and this mommy – who cleans enough human bodily fluids each day – has NO PLANS of getting a dog any time soon, despite the rest of my family insisting they will “take care of it.”

I don’t believe them.

We have two fish and I don’t know why they are still alive. They are fed spontaneously and when Luke feeds them, he dumps half the food into their tank because he figures they can eat the food from the ground. And, I guess he must also think this is a way in which he only has to feed them on an occasional whim. He’s a smart boy, but I don’t think this is the best approach to animal caregiving.

Our history does not prove we are the best people to care for a dog.

We have no dog to be thankful for!

In fact, I bet a dog is thankful to NOT live in our home!

Micayla’s turkey makes me laugh.

It also makes me wonder what I’d put on my turkey. Not just the standard family, friends, shelter and food answer, either. I want to be more specific. More sincere.

What moments of life stand out and are stored forever in my mind and heart? Occasions that I look back on with fondness? Or, occasions that don’t usher a smile. Times that are painful to remember BUT are also moments that spurred me on to learn more about God and deepened my faith?

In your life right now, what realities or experiences are you thankful for?

I am thankful for…

  • My children’s excitement when they see anything Florida Gators. This has ZERO to do with my interest, or lack thereof, in the Gators. It brings me joy because, in their young ages of not knowing rivalries, they simply like the Gators because they know their Daddy likes the Gators. To me, this shows they love and respect their Daddy. They trust that he makes good choices and they can follow suit. Each time they point out “Gators” to me in public, I am reminded of their dad. And it brings me joy and thankfulness.

 

  • Knowing my husband since we were kids and that my memory pool includes pinning a boutonniere on his homecoming and prom suits, trading American history notes and touring the UCF campus together. As of last year, we have spent more of our lives together than apart. We’ve created seven babies, three of whom we’ve held since the moments they were born, and three who are held by God. I’m awed that we will cherish holding one more in just a couple weeks. I love the way my hand fits in his and how our children make the same facial expressions as him.

 

  • Dirt, worms, snails, acorns, butterflies and lizards. I’m thankful for God’s creation and how exploring it lights up my sons’ worlds. With pressures of entertaining our kids in much more extravagant ways, I am grateful that we can walk outside to a wonderland. I am thankful for simplicity and the joys it can bring.

 

  • Photographs. Looking at photos of my children from birth on, seeing how much they change and grow, remembering special occasions. Also knowing how difficult it was to capture certain photos and the hard work that went into trying to get a young child – or two or three! – to sit still and smile. Those real memories are fun (maybe more fun to look back on than they were in the moment!)

 

  • Honest moms. Moms who are open and honest in the difficulties and joys involved in being a mom. Moms who share a cup of coffee with me and tell me about their lives, past and present. I can remember specific times at Panera or Starbucks where a friend and I shared laughter, tears and prayers. These memories will be forever ingrained in my mind and heart. They are infrequent, occurring only a few times a year, but life-breathing nonetheless. I value few things more than authenticity.

 

  • Car conversations with my children. My children are horrible “road warriors” so I don’t mean we have these deep conversations while crossing state lines. Our conversations happen during 10-20 minute car rides, but I’m finding these moments more and more important. Being hostage in a car seems to offer a better chance that we will finish conversations without distraction.

 

  • My parents. My mom and dad ALWAYS parented differently, but now that I am a parent, I know they both tried their best. I’m thankful for all the unique sacrifices they each made to show my sister and I love. My mom ensured healthy meals, a clean home and clothes, consistency and dependence. A monumental task for a single parent. My dad treated me to TV dinners, which I thought were such a treat, and decorated his house like the North Pole at Christmas. He took me to swimming lessons and brought flowers to my dance recitals, making me feel like a princess as he embraced me in his leather coat that smelled of wonderful cologne. While I, of course, would LOVE to see my mom with my children, knowing she would be TICKLED by them and adore the gift of being a grandmother, I have nothing but absolute gratitude for her time here and God’s plan in her earthly work finishing a bit early.

 

  • Peace and contentment – two things I have found ONLY come from God. These are the most cherished things I am grateful for. The secrets of life. There is NO BETTER life than one of peace and contentment, no matter the circumstances. I am thankful for a God who offers us ALL peace and contentment. That He is patient when we wander from the gift and that He generously gives it to us time and time again.

How about you? Not to diminish the value in being thankful for family, friends, food, clothing, shelter and faith, but what EXACTLY are you thankful for this year? What about these things gives you reason to be grateful? It took me a long time to come up with my list, but once I started, things poured out. I now feel giddy with gratitude. Awed and humbled. I don’t deserve the things mentioned above. They are gifts. Blessings.

I don’t want to take them for granted.

I want to notice and remember them. Live in gratitude, not expectation or entitlement. I think that robs the heart and soul of peace and contentment. I don’t want to overlook my blessings.

I hope this makes you truly consider the things you are thankful for. I hope you share those things with others. Celebrate thankfulness. Happy Thanksgiving!

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