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8 Things I’m Grateful for and Why

It’s that time of year again, the season of giving thanks. You might be making a mental inventory of blessings, jotting down ideas for Facebook statuses, or lining up pictures for Instagram posts that proclaim unceasing gratitude in the most authentic way possible. It truly does a heart good to take stock, no matter how you do it.

If you haven’t seen it yet this year, you might remember the Thankfulness Challenges that filled up social media feeds from Novembers past. If you ask me, the best thing about these posts is seeing everyday stuff from real people. So on behalf of Karens everywhere (if you’ve seen the memes and tweets, you know) and in the spirit of recognizing some of that everyday stuff, I’m going to get things started. In no particular order, here are eight things I’m incredibly grateful for. 

Waking up. When my father heard people complain about birthdays and getting older, he used to say, “It’s better than the alternative.” He’s been gone ten years now, but thanks to his attitude of gratitude, I try to take a minute (at least) every day to appreciate the privilege of being on this earth. And yes, I do think of it as a privilege.

My fall porch. Several years ago, I found the perfect handcrafted plant stand at Arts Around the Lake at the University of Richmond. After trying to talk myself out of spending so much money on something for myself, I bought three and gave the other ones to my mom and my mother-in-law for Christmas. Now, we all have to find the perfect plants and gourds and arrangements to put on our porches so our very cool plant stands don’t look underdressed.  

Zumba. And not Zumba in general, but my Zumba class in particular, and my favorite instructor of all time, Beyoncé – um, I mean, Quea. I don’t know her last name and that’s probably for the best. If everyone who took her classes knew her last name, she might not be safe to shop for groceries or drop off her adorable child at childcare or even work her real job. We all love her class that much. Quea’s Zumba class* is on a Sunday and it is, I believe, more spiritually uplifting than going to church.  

Working from home. And to hone in on this one more specifically, I am thankful I do not have to commute to work in a car. It is scary out there with humans trying to control 3,000-pound missiles while scrolling their phones and texting their friends to find the perfect lunch spot. What might be just as scary is when you try to let someone know with a quick beep (and yes, I was tactful about it!) that it’s time to proceed through the intersection, and they flip you off or pull up beside you at the next intersection and look at you menacingly. 

NBA basketball. I was absolutely thrilled for my dear friend, Sara, when her beloved Nats went to the World Series last month, but another sport owns October for me. And November. And December. And midway through June if the playoffs are halfway decent. There is a certain irony in a vertically challenged, white, middle-aged mom having an obsession with NBA basketball, but there it is. I have always appreciated the pace of the game and the grace, creativity, and athleticism of its players – which you can actually see because they are not wearing helmets and covered with layers of padding. Sorry football.

The NPR Politics Podcast. I’ve long held that keeping up with government and policy and paying attention to the Supreme Court and its rulings are true marks of patriotism. The smart and folksy team on The NPR Politics Podcast are about as likeable a group as the friends you made your freshman year in college or the people you ate lunch with at your first real job. And the daily podcast is usually under twenty minutes, so you’re up to speed in a flash. As a matter of fact, I am grateful for NPR and VPM, in general.

My slippers. People name the things they love, right? Their children, their pets, their slippers. Wait, what? Your slippers don’t have a name? Mine do. They are the perfect combination of warmth and comfort now, but when I first put them on, my feet immediately burst into flames. Not really, but man, were they toasty! I christened them my Hell-Clouds then and it stuck. Today, my feet let out a sigh of relief every time I slip into them. No flames!  

Canberry sauce. Okay, for this one, I am equally thankful for the jiggly, easy-to-serve pseudo-fruit and the newfound freedom to enjoy it year-round, now that my women-children eat the majority of their meals elsewhere. Although, it’s typically part of a Thanksgiving feast, reasonable people should be allowed to enjoy jellied cranberry sauce (i.e., canberry sauce) with other dishes (most notably, chicken pot pie) whenever they darn-well please. Plus, now I get the privilege of hearing a timeless dad joke about how the ridge imprints from the can mean it was fresh-picked from the tree.  

So there you have it. Eight things I’m grateful for – actually six things and two broad concepts, but you get the idea. If you have some time this month, I highly recommend doing an inventory of your own. Making a list of silly things or serious things might help you get closer to realizing that all-important attitude of gratitude. And thanks to my father, that’s one more thing I can be thankful for every day!

Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family, including husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director. You can read Karen’s take on parenting her three daughters – Sam, Robin, and Lindsey, also known as the women-children – in the Editor’s Voice.
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