My Column for the Elgin Review 11.20.19
We were in the furniture store on the square after buying our first home. The salesman was showing us the washers and dryers. Wanting to be sure we could wash the fluffy comforter for our bed we were deciding between the super-duper sized drum and the super-duper-deluxe when I started laughing. My husband and the salesman, not sure what I found so funny, looked confused. Stifling my giggles, I said, “six months ago we were washing our clothes on a rock in the Zaire river and now we’re being so serious about making the right decision between super-duper and super-duper deluxe. It’s crazy!”
Being in Zaire in my mid-twenties changed me forever. Things I grew up taking for granted, like washing machines and dryers, I no longer take for granted.
The past couple warm spells I spent hours washing the windows of the parsonage. The windows are as old as I am, and the storm windows were hard to figure out, but they’re very well made, and do their job and I’m thankful for them. In Zaire, we had crank out windows, missing their cranks and there were no hardware stores to go buy more so the only way to open or close them was from the outside. Before Zaire, I took windows for granted. I don’t anymore.
We’ve invited Mike’s girls and my brother to join us for a pre-Thanksgiving/Mike’s birthday dinner next Tuesday at our apartment in Lincoln before we head to Minneapolis to celebrate Thanksgiving with two of our sons and my cousin’s family. Glenna, our youngest, laughed thinking about me cooking a Thanksgiving meal in our little-bitty kitchen in the apartment. I remember Zaire, where we had a little-bitty electric stove with dubious wiring and nothing else and I’m thankful for the apartment kitchen.
Other experiences have given me reason not to take things for granted. A hard marriage and difficult divorce make my marriage to Mike that much sweeter. A cancer diagnosis two years after we married, makes my clean bill of health now that much sweeter. And so on.
As we close in on Thanksgiving, it’s not things like appliances and windows and functioning kitchens for which I’m most thankful, but I am thankful for them. I’m most thankful for all the people around me, for all the love and joy and laughter that are mine.
There’s an old hymn with which I have a love-hate relationship. The melody is singsongy and becomes an ear-worm playing on a continuous loop in my head after I’ve sung it. The words and sentiment are simple:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done,
Count your Blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings see what God has done.
(Johnson Oatman, 1897).
This Thanksgiving I’ll be counting appliances and windows and itty-bitty kitchens and a happy marriage and good health and family and friends and you, my new neighbors, among my many blessings. What and who will you not take for granted this season? What and who will you count as blessings this Thanksgiving?
You are always welcome to join us at Park Congregational United Church of Christ at 9:15 every Sunday morning to give God thanks for all the blessings of life. We’re 10 miles west of Elgin on HWY 70 and ½ mile south.
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