Thursday, November 5, 2009

Giving Thanks

Although I’ve never really taken Thanksgiving for granted, I have sometimes glossed over the true meaning of the holiday in favor of yummy turkey and mouth-watering dressing. I enjoy being with family and friends and remembering all that we have to be thankful for, but am I really giving proper credit to the things I am thankful for?

This year has brought us two new members to our family and an expanding family is one to be grateful for. First is our new son-in-law, Jason Wilham, and although he an Amber have only been married a few months, he is the perfect fit for our family. Our second addition is a brand-new great niece, Desiree Carter, precious daughter of my niece, Ashley. Desiree is the first new baby in our family in over 16 years and we are thankful to be celebrating her first Thanksgiving. A new son and a new baby – my family is truly blessed

During this past summer, my family lived through a traumatic time in our lives - a fire at our home. This was not a total loss fire, but it did enough damage to disrupt our lives for several months. In addition to redoing the laundry room – where the fire occurred – we also had smoke and water damage to clean in the kitchen and living room. You don’t realize how much of a packrat you are until your pack-ratty ways are staring you right in the face.

Really? There are just so many file folders of corrected stories I can keep – why do I feel the need to hold on to every corrected copy? Really? There are just so many foam cups from Speedway my hubby can bring into the house – why do I feel the need to save every one? Really? There are just so many glass jars one family can own and use – why do I feel the need save them all instead of placing in the recycle bin?

Our clutter problem probably wouldn’t be so bad if it were just me, but my hubby is a packrat, too, and between us, we have a hard time letting anything go. Both of us can see objects in a new light, with a new purpose and we know that one day, we will need this item. The problem is, we never have enough time or energy to do anything with the item. I’ve saved old furniture thinking I can refurbish is, I’ve saved old pots and pans thinking I can use them as flower pots or seed starters and I’ve saved plastic bottles thinking to make mini-greenhouses for spring plants. I really do have good intentions, but for some reason, life just gets in the way.

For many years we used to eat Pizza Hut pizza every Friday night – it was a family tradition to have pizza and a movie on Fridays. I always saved the boxes because they could be used to make stepping-stones. At one time, I had a stack of boxes in my kitchen I called the “leaning tower of pizza.” I did make some stepping-stones with a few of the boxes, but the process took so long and the stones were so heavy, I couldn’t move them by myself. I did use some of the boxes as a weed barrier in a new garden bed and they worked beautifully when covered with mulch, but I could never use all the boxes I had saved.

After the fire, I was surprised to find a small stack of pizza boxes in the kitchen that had escaped the fire. It has been almost two years since we’ve routinely had Pizza Hut pizza on Friday night – two years! With the economy so bad, I’ve started making homemade pizza because it is cheaper and we can control the toppings. Why was I still holding on to old pizza boxes? I don’t know, but I took a deep breath and threw them in the trash.

Although I realize possessions can be replaced, we did lose a few things of sentimental value that will be greatly missed, our cedar wardrobe being the largest. The wardrobe actually belonged to my mother-in-law, but we’ve been using it since we were married over 20 years ago. I loved that wardrobe and I had always planned to have it turned into an entertainment center for our living room so we could see the beautiful wood. Inside the wardrobe were my wedding dress and the first quilt I ever made. I’ve saved them both, but they will never be able to be used again. Part of my packrat mind won’t let me throw them away because I may be able to turn them into a pillow or something, but who knows?

Other things, like the washer and dryer, deep freezer and clothes organizer – these will all be replaced. No sentimental attachment to these things. Old winter clothes waiting to be put back into use; we can always buy new clothes. Some Halloween decorations were also in the laundry room waiting to decorate for fall, but maybe I had too many decorations; maybe the universe is trying to tell me simple is really best.

This year at Thanksgiving, I’m thankful the rest of our house was spared. I’m thankful my husband, my daughter or myself were not at home. We grieve for the loss of our three beautiful cats, but we have lost pets before and I’m sure we’ll lose pets again. I am thankful for the love and support of our family and friends and I am grateful for all their thoughts and prayers. This year, Thanksgiving is blossoming in a new light. This year, it really is a season to give thanks.