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Jewish World Review
Jan 6, 2012/ 11 Teves, 5772
I've been giving myself what my mother used to call a good "talking to." It's a kind of pep talk to remind me to count my blessings, when all I want to do is crawl up under the porch with the dogs and cry.
No, I don't mean that literally. It's a figure of speech. I don't own a dog. Or have a porch it could crawl under. If I did, we might both be under it tonight.
The "talking to" is a simple matter of naming things for which I'm thankful. It allows me to refocus my thoughts from false to true; my feelings from sad to glad; and my heart from empty to overflowing.
Usually, it works like a charm. Tonight, not so much.
I started the "talk" about an hour ago, the minute I dropped my kids at the airport. They had been visiting my husband and me for the past three days --- my youngest, his sweet wife and their 18-month-old redheaded Firecracker. We talked and laughed and ate, watched a lot of bad TV, spent hours chasing the Firecracker, did everything possible to have a great time, and still, I wanted more.
But tonight, they had to fly back to California. So I drove them to the airport, kissed them each several times, and nearly swooned when the Firecracker kissed me back. Then I waved goodbye, drove away dry-eyed and began giving thanks:
That my husband and I are blessed to have children (his two, my three, their others and three grandchildren) who seem to like us well enough to visit when they can, and not just because we live in Las Vegas.
- That while we couldn't all be together for Christmas, we saw everyone at some point, except my daughter and her husband and their 4-month-old, and I'll see them soon, Lord willing.
- That there are only 500 miles between us and our offspring, and not the continent that I wedged between my mother and me and the grandchildren she adored, but seldom saw.
- That the driver of the SUV who honked rather rudely when I accidentally cut in front of him on the freeway didn't run me off the road or shoot me.
- That toddlers don't care how much you spend on them for Christmas. The Firecracker's favorite things were a tube of tennis balls that we dumped out and he refilled countless times; chasing pigeons off the lawn; piling gravel on the walk and laughing hysterically each time I brushed it off; and helping me open and read a stack of reader mail (thank you very much.)
- That there are people I have never met who are not only kind enough to read my work, but care enough to send best wishes for the new year to me and my family, including the Firecracker who ripped open their cards.
- That one of the best things about being a grandparent is watching your child be a parent and having him ask, "Mom, was I like that when I was his age?"
- That one of the best things about being married is watching your husband dance like Baloo the Bear while your grandson bangs on the bongo drums.
Those were just a few of the gifts I named driving back from the airport. They helped. A lot.
Then I got home and found in the kitchen sink the "spork" --- a combination spoon and fork the Firecracker used to push food around on his high-chair tray to pretend he had actually eaten it.
It's funny how a little piece of plastic and metal can make you forget all about being thankful.
Pretty soon, Baloo was asking, "Are you OK?"
"I am," I said, "or will be."
Then I went back to giving thanks for all good things -- good health, good husbands, good children, good readers -- and the fact that soon I'll go to California, to see my daughter and her family, and give the Firecracker his spork.
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© 2012, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE