It’s the month of Thanksgiving. The time of year when we see grocery store aisles brimming with turkey and stuffing and Facebook feeds filling with daily reminders of gratitude. Many people partake in a lovely tradition where they record and post one thing they are thankful for each day during the month of November. I think this is a beautiful practice, but I’ve never been able to maintain it with any consistency. You see, I’m woefully forgetful and far too easily distracted, so I make it to about day three before my efforts begin to taper off.
Instead, I decided to practice a day of gratitude. Rather than finding 30 things I’m thankful for over the course of the month, I decided to challenge myself to find 30 things to be thankful for in a single ordinary day. The thing is, its in the ordinary, the mundane of everyday life, that we can often find the extraordinary. But we must be willing to slow down, shift our perspective, and notice.
These are just a few of the many magical moments sprinkled throughout my day that often go overlooked, but for which I am so thankful:
1. Tiny baby fingers grasping my arm and snuggling warm in bed in the dark and cold of the early morning.
2. The magic of a toddler growing in independence. Getting out of bed and going to the bathroom by herself and amazing us with what she’s learning every day.
3. My husband going in just a little late to work so he can share breakfast with our family.
4. The all too loud sounds and overwhelming mayhem in the morning that mean our house is bursting with life.
5. A warm cup of coffee with a perfect swirl of cream and just the right amount of sweetness.
6. A baby who stops nursing just to look up at me with the most gorgeous gummy grin.
7. The music of little pots and pans clanging together in a play kitchen.
8. My daughters sitting on the kitchen floor, without caring how dirty it is, playing joyfully together.
9. The cold damp air on my cheeks as we head out for a misty morning walk.
10. Moving my body and stretching my legs as I breathe in the peace of the outdoor world.
11. The smell of fall. Not of artificial pumpkin spice, but of peaty fallen leaves and dewy grass.
12. The wonder of a child discovering an acorn or a worm on a walk in the park.
13. How excited the dog gets to see a squirrel. Tongue out, tail wagging wildly as she can barely contain her fierce energy.
14. Conversations with a neighbor. Dreaming together of exotic vacations with sunny skies and sandy beaches.
15. A friend getting my toddler a cup of water at storytime since my hands are so full and my mind is so frenzied.
16. The most caring librarians who always remember the children’s names, have the patience of saints, and engage the kids in such fun programs.
17. A kind compliment from a stranger telling me I’m handling my children so gracefully when in that moment I feel the exact opposite.
18. A hot meal out shared with my daughter, which feels like such a special indulgence, as we smile at each other across pot roast and mac & cheese.
19. The luxury of being able to buy groceries and feed my family.
20. Running through cold rain and climbing into a warm car to escape it.
21. An easy nap time. The rare and beautiful gift of my toddler drifting off to sleep without a battle.
22. The quiet and sacred breathing of both children sleeping simultaneously.
23. A meal eaten in silence and solitude. And consumed in one sitting.
24. A baby who won’t stay asleep without me nestled beside her, because it means I have no choice but to take a much needed break.
25. My daughters entertaining themselves and each other as they play so I can cook dinner in relative peace.
26. The warmth of a bear hug from my husband when he walks through the door.
27. Dancing while cleaning the kitchen as my girls stare at me with wide eyes and big smiles.
28. Little wet footprints on the floor after my daughter climbs out of the bath.
29. The sweet smell of clean babes with wet hair and snuggly pajamas.
30. The even sweeter taste of chocolate devoured after the kids are asleep.
In the noticing of these little sparks of joy, the day actually felt so much more peaceful, happy, and slightly magical. Each challenge I met throughout the day provided an opportunity to look for the positive. The seeking was like a reset button, reminding me to step back and gain perspective.
While none of my moments were anything earth shattering or momentous, they were glimpses of the happiness that can often be overshadowed by busy schedules and grocery store meltdowns and sticky floors. They are the small wonders that lie between the mess of daily life, which at the end of the day is what its all about.
As one of my very favorite quotes by one of my very favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, reminds me:
“Maybe life doesn’t get any better than this, or any worse, and what we get is just what we’re willing to find: small wonders, where they grow.”