My friend recently asked me to take the Gratitude Challenge, which insists that if you give gratitude for something each day for 21 days, you will live life in the silver lining. You will make yourself happier and the world a better place.
I never thought of myself as a curmudgeon. But every November, as I watch my friends and family take to social media to account for all the things they are grateful for, I can’t help but roll my eyes. I mean, please, let’s take all that granola hippie stuff, coat it with some peanut butter, slap it on a pine cone and leave it for the birds.
Get it? Because it’s become a bird feeder.
“It’s not like I don’t have enough else to do.”
“Totally,” my friend said. “Because you’ll always have time to reflect on how awesome your life was once you’re dead. Oh, wait. No, you won’t. Because you’ll be dead.”
My friend, sensing my submission, handed me a pen. I immediately scribbled:
“No. 1. I’m grateful to start looking for new friends.”
My friend pushed my hand to keep writing, but I had nothing to say. In that moment, I realized I was guilty, especially since becoming a mom, of not slowing down. Of not taking time to be appreciative. I decided that spreading a little contrived sunshine and saccharine smiley faces wasn’t that bad. It’s not, right?
Gratitude Challenge accepted:
2) I’m grateful that I have a job that not only is creatively stimulating but also allows me to wear hooded sweatshirts and slippers to work.
3) I am grateful there is such a thing as the Hoodie-Footie pajamas and will be even more grateful when work permits those to be worn.
4) I’m grateful I have a husband who long ago abandoned any attempt to buy lingerie and buys me said Hoodie-Footie pajamas.
5) And embraces me for who I am (or at least accepts me).
6) And who believes in me and supports my dreams.
7) I’m grateful motherhood is as challenging and rewarding and heart-explodingly awesome as I thought it would be.
8) And for readily available coffee because motherhood does not come with sleep.
9) And that the ingredients list of my non-refrigerated coffee creamer is written small enough that I don’t have to admit daily that I love the taste of polykillyouslowlycin.
10) I’m grateful to live in a country that requires companies, by law, to be transparent about the ways they are poisoning us.
11) And that my country is always aspiring to be better.
12) As are the people in it.
13) I’m grateful for running water, most recently because my son laughs uproariously and adorably when he runs his hand through the faucet waterfall.
14) And for flushed toilets.
15) And for the Shenis when no flushed toilets are available. Perfect for camping trips. Look it up.
16) I’m grateful to have taken long camping trips. With nights so clear and full of stars, I could make out the Milky Way and know that I was part of something grand. And something fleeting. And something important. And something spectacular.
17) I’m grateful that we, as a society, believe in wishing upon stars. And upon pennies. That with all our skepticism and knowledge, we embrace the idea of such magic.
18) I’m grateful for being raised in a family that encouraged holding on to magic and to joy and to life’s simple pleasures as long as possible. And that when I felt too old, my family challenged me to hold on to those things a little longer.
19) I’m grateful for the health of all my loved ones so that we may keep on exploring and enjoying the little pleasures.
20) I’m grateful for friends who force a pen in my hand and demand I take the time to slow down and count my blessings.
21) And that sporks are not easily accessible.
22) And for deep-fried jalapenos stuffed inside deep-fried Baby Ruths. Because they exist. And I’ve had one. And they’re amazing. And because my first answer was a lie.
The funny thing about coming up with 21 things you’re grateful for is that the next 21 come easily. Time well spent — even for a busy working mom.