“That’s a Good Pick Up Line, Isn’t It?” And Other Things I’m Grateful For

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. It just is. Even when we know we have a lot to be grateful/thankful for. But other times it’s easy, incredibly easy – and that’s probably something I should be grateful for, too. So in no particular order, and because it’s the season, here are twelve things I am grateful for (because you know, the twelve days of Christmas and all that. Or really, because I just like that number):

  1. I am grateful that I have a 14 year old son who willingly hangs out with my friend’s 5 year old so she and I can have a peaceful dinner
  2. I am grateful I have an 11 year old who makes me laugh with his imagination. My two favorite quotes from him this week were:
    1. (singing) “He knows if you been bad or good” (pause) “well, let’s just not think about that”
    2. (eyeing a biscuit that kind of unfolded as it cooked and so looked like it had two arms) “I’d hug you but you’re too hot.” Then to me, “Hey Mom, that’s a good pick up line isn’t it?”
  3. I am grateful that I have a husband who I can still imagine growing old with (hey, we’re still young (ish))
  4. I am grateful for being back in California and close to family and for friends with whom distance does not matter
  5. I am grateful for the wild turkeys around here, because there is nothing like a flock of wild turkeys to remind you how lucky you are to have a brain
  6. I am grateful for the rain, because it’s California and to not be thankful for the rain could get you kicked out
  7. I am grateful for all the characters in my books because they let me live out a fantasy life without causing too much harm in my real life
  8. I am grateful for my trainer, oh wait, no I’m not (okay, I am, but don’t tell her because I won’t be able to walk for a week after she hears)
  9. I am grateful for all the people I work with because somehow, someone managed to gather a group of people with the same, somewhat twisted sense of humor, and throw us all together
  10. I am grateful for books, books, and more books
  11. I am grateful for wine, wine, and more wine
  12. I am grateful that I have the life I do that makes writing this list easy

Happy Holidays everyone.

All Kinds of Gifts

Last Fourth of July a fire was started not far from our house – someone illegally lighting fireworks back in the dry, hot hills near Lake Berryessa in the middle of one of the worst droughts the state has experienced in decades. The fire ultimately consumed about 6500 acres of wild land – nothing compared to the fires that hit the Sierras but still, so close to where we lived, it was nothing to laugh about.

It started in the evening, when others were legally setting off fireworks in other parts of the county, and around 4am, we received a visit from the sheriff with a request to evacuate. It was voluntary at first but with the smell of smoke thick in the air and ash and soot falling all over our property we opted to take their advice. The winds where we live typically come from the north and blow fast and hot in the summer. Those winds were blessedly quiet on that night, but had mother nature changed her mind and stuck with her routine, there was no doubt the flames would sweep through our neighborhood – we left hoping for the best and, to be honest, expecting the best, but cautious nonetheless.

As it turned out mother nature was kind and the winds, unusually, blew up from the delta that entire week rather than down from the north. The fire came close to where we live, but not a single structure was effected other than the clean-up we all had to do to get rid of the ashes that seemed to be everywhere.

It might seem strange to be writing about this now, five months after the fact, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been on my mind because Christmas is coming up and whether we want to or not (if you celebrate it, that is), thoughts turn to gifts and presents and boxes under trees. We’ve certainly consumed our fair share of “stuff” over the years, but as we get older, and the kids do, too, we’re definitely moving away from this trend. And now, now when my inbox seems to be flooded with ads and offers every day, I find myself asking, “Would we have taken this with us when we evacuated?” If the answer is “no” then I’m more likely to pass on it. That’s not to say we’re not going to enjoy some frivolous things as I’m a big believer in being able to enjoy things you want not just what you need, but am I going to spend a lot of money on something that might hold our attention for just a short while? Probably not. Because when it came down to it, the only things I took with me when we left that morning were a few changes of clothes, some heirloom jewelry, our passports (we had a trip scheduled in less than a month), and my computer (and only because it had my book drafts on it!). But I think what’s most telling is what my younger son put in his bag: A souvenir knife he got when we were in Roatan (Honduras), his “cold blanket” (a baby quilt that was once my brother’s that he’s had his whole life), and the tennis racket my mother-in-law had given him along with a pillow he’d adopted from her bed after she’d died. If we had to evacuate again next year, what would he take? My guess is probably a lot of the same stuff and maybe the hat he got when we were in Italy this summer with our good friends.

I love the Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When he packed his bag, not knowing if he would ever be able to come back to his home as he knew it, what he most wanted to preserve, what he most wanted to keep and protect, were memories and physical things that evoked those memories – things that reminded him of time spent with family in a special place, the feeling of being tucked in and safe, and of course, his loving grandmother.

I think that’s probably what we all want in the end of the day – memories worth holding onto and keeping safe because of how they make us feel. Physical things are good, too but if you had to leave your home tonight, what would take and why? If it’s things that remind you of people you love or places or things you’ve done or feelings you’ve had, maybe those are the kinds of gifts we should giving, too?

I won’t tell you what the boys are getting for Christmas this year just yet, but I can promise you it isn’t another laptop or iPhone or sport icon poster. I’m hoping to find something that makes them feel.

Another little glimpse….

Ready for more from The Frailty of Things?  I posted a sneak peek last week and now here is the cover!

TFOT Final Cover

We debated a long time between two primary images and I love where we landed! Will keep you posted on the launch date.