All November, I’ve been reading people’s “30 Things I’m Thankful For” posts on Facebook and around the web. I thought it was a nice way to celebrate Thanksgiving but was a bit gimmicky and just not for me. That is, until I read the “(remaining) thankful” post on a blog written by a remarkable woman I attended graduate school with. She posted her 30 Things as a single list rather than spreading it out over 30 days, and every thanks she had was for a person in her life.
Is it obvious that the 30 things we’re most thankful for are all going to be people? I think not, because while every list I saw this month contained spouses, children, parents, there was also a lot of non-people thanking. Of course not everyone couched their list as a “Top 30,” and I’m thankful for Fall colors, too, so I don’t mean to judge anyone else’s lists. It’s just that the “(remaining) thankful” list was the one that stopped me cold because—here’s my confession—it honestly never would have occurred to me to make a list of people.
For instance, my list would have included “the time I spent in Italy” and “being employed,” which can both come off, I’m afraid, as a bit “neener-neener” or “look how lucky I am.” That’s not what would have been on my heart as I wrote my list, and I truly am thankful for what I learned as an expatriate, but if being away from my home country taught me anything it was the significance and value of the people I was no longer seeing on a regular basis.
So thank you, B, for your thankfulness post. It reminded me to take the time to give thanks and reminded me what I am truly most thankful for.
30 People I’m Thankful For this Thanksgiving Season
- J – for wanting to be with me in spite of me, for his gift of generosity, for being a wonderful father and husband.
- G – for teaching me daily a new and bright outlook on the world.
- Mother – for raising me mostly on her own, for teaching me to be an adult, for demonstrating friendship and hospitality, for being such a willing travel partner.
- Dad – for days in San Francisco, for symphony rehearsals, for teddy bears and my first gold necklace, for dragging me to car dealerships (where I learned how to haggle for a car), and most especially for that talk when you told me it was okay with you that you were going to die—though, for the record, it’s still not okay with me.
- Elizabeth – for cooking, for exchanging first drafts, for meeting us in Trento our first day there, for Hawaii after my father died (I know she didn’t plan her wedding for the same week, but I’m still grateful it worked out that way).
- Heidi – for still being my big sister, though I always hated being the “little sister,” for demonstrating daily what dependence on God looks like. Also, no one can leave a voicemail quite as long as Heidi can, except perhaps me.
- Denise – for showing me through her devotion to family and work that no obstacle is too great for God: my sister is a pastor’s wife raising 3 children while working full-time with brain trauma patients, and I try to appreciate her as much as she deserves.
- Chris – for being a wife to my father in health and in sickness, and for counting me as a daughter.
- Ellyn – we couldn’t be more opposite, but she’s never made me feel unaccepted or unworthy to be her son’s wife.
- Bruce – for raising my amazing husband as another son and accepting me wholly into his family.
- Christiana – my first friend, for her generosity of spirit, bravery, and dedication to God’s calling, for still being silly, for taking phone calls from Italy, and for taking time for old friends during her short furlough in the U.S.
- Chris – for being both friend and brother to J, for the example he sets as a father and husband, for his open pursuit to learn and grow in God.
- Kathi – for making it clear from the start that she wanted to be my sister, not just a sister-in-law.
- Allison – my first niece, for every moment of her life, including her willingness to talk Breaking Dawn with me at Thanksgiving this year, despite all the disgust and eye-rolling from the peanut gallery.
- Laura – for so warmly embracing me as a sister, for Pensacola beaches and late nights talking over Ouzo, for taking so many health-related phone calls (Here’s a secret: she’s one of my favorite people.).
- Charles – I had four hours to get nervous on the drive to meet J’s step-brother-in-law and family. Then Charles handed me a margarita when I stepped through the door and to this day I am so very grateful.
- Jessica – a friend for nearly 25 years, for being someone I can laugh over very old jokes with and for taking me as I am as well as as I was.
- Cheryl – for letting me force friendship on her in Jr. High, for trips to Vegas, for the Winter Olympics, for lots of Mulder and Scully.
- Sarah – the first person I could talk on the phone with for hours, for the friendship we had then and the friendship we’re re-starting now.
- Tatiana & Brane – for befriending their way-in-over-their-heads American neighbors, for long talks over coffee about the history of Serbia and EU politics. Please visit us in the US!
- Carolyn – the first American I met in Italy, for extending support to a stranger over the internet and for a butternut squash soup I will never forget (ie, thanks for Thanksgiving 2010).
- Ilana, Jessica, i-Jen – for bringing some English friendship back into my life–so, Jenn, what did you do in Italy? Oh, I lunched with these fellow expat women from the U.S., Canada and Ireland. We sat in the piazza at noon and drank spritz or Hugo–also, I am forever indebted to i-Jen for finding G and I in the hospital in Bolzano and for bringing a children’s abecedarium that said “C is for cacca” with a gorgeous brown illustration of poop.
- Curt – for raising an incredible son, for taking my attitude and throwing back some of his own. I think we understand each other.
- Michele – for welcoming J as a son, for always making room for us at her table.
- Clare – for her example as an academic and mom, for her positive view of the world and acceptance of all people as they are, for her gift for introducing friends.
- Austin – for being his un-inhibited self, for loving people where they are, for being an involved father and husband, for letting me read all his novels in progress.
- Beth, Kay, Liz – I can always call on these women for prayer, for support, for just listening. Beth, for starting this Bible study. Liz, for staying in contact through so many moves. Kay, for being the face I still know at MPPC.
- Grandma & Grandpa – for raising my mother, for passing on the family traditions, for being an example of how to love and live together for 70 years, and for those incredible genes that will hopefully enable me to live forever.
- Joe & Gina – for Firefly and popcorn, for teaching generosity through example, for turning every “like” into a passion, for taking on an 8-month pregnant couple as new friends.
- Aunt Kathi – for essentially raising my dad, for family history, for the example set by raising a family and not giving up on her talents, for reaching out when I so rarely reach back.
- God – for creation and never leaving me alone but specifically, today, for speaking to me through a blog.
Note: I use initials on this blog for the sake of privacy, but with the exception of J and G, who appear regularly here, I’ve decided to use first names above. If you see yourself on this list and want to be called something else or initialized, just let me know.
Full disclosure: I thought I’d written 30 people down, but I miscounted. Also, if you count the people I grouped as individuals, it’s a list of 38, but whatever.