Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Little Things that Actually Aren't so Little

Many people I know have been practicing days of Thanksgiving by listing the things they are thankful for—I have enjoyed seeing these proclamations on Facebook and other social network sites. It’s a great reminder that, despite all our complaints about the (Insert whatever is frustrating you here) we have a pretty cushy existence compared to most places in the world.

But today, I thought I’d try something different. I’m thankful for the BIG things, of course! The things we all realize: family, freedom, food, health, faith (for me, this means Christ as my Savior) and so on…I think we all are. There is a book that says, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

I disagree. I say the big stuff is made up of small stuff…and I wanted to try something different this Thanksgiving. I am definitely thankful for the BIG stuff (but you all knew that already) so I’m going to mention some of the small stuff. The tiny, everyday blessings that really aren’t so tiny. Things I don’t even think about that, well, maybe I should think about.

So here are ten “minor “things (that really aren’t that minor) I’m thankful for:

1. Going to the bathroom.

I know, that sounds silly, but until you have a friend on dialysis, or a relative with a blocked colon, you realize this is one of those things that happens every day that you never think about until something goes wrong.

2. Pajama days

I maintain that having a day to spend in your pajamas is one of the great simple pleasures of life. We don’t think about it because 1—we take for granted that we HAVE pajamas, 2—we take for granted that we can (generally) afford to have at least one morning a week in relative safety where we can do that.

3. A church on every corner.

A friend of mine from up North laughed at all the hundreds and hundreds of churches in Rocky Mount—especially the “storefront” ones with names like “Temple of the Power House of Christ’s Holy Spirit.” Now, I can’t speak for what all these folks believe theologically, nor can I speak for any of the storefront worship centers of other faiths, but while he found all this variety laughable, I thought it was fascinating. We forget in many countries, not only is there no religious freedom, but differences/ dissention within denominations is met with much more than some bad press and heated exchanges at annual conferences. And to display your affiliation in bold letters in the front window? Not possible in some areas.

4. My big-butt can o’ change.

Which in itself is more money than most people have in some countries. Maybe I need to give that change to a charity.

5. Spiders

Until you are surrounded by the Eastern North Carolina Mosquitoes of Summer (that always deserved to be capitalized) you really appreciate any critter who makes mosquitoes a part of its everyday diet. Heck, I’ll even throw bats and frogs in there as well.

6. Breathing

Two of my closest friends have cystic fibrosis, a horrible disease that, until I met K and T, I knew very little about. One of my friends said it was like trying to breathe through a straw in a room full of cotton. Many with CF have to have lung transplants, and because that is still a relatively uncommon procedure (as compared to kidney or liver transplants), the NIH doesn’t dedicate as much money (or maybe any) to lung transplant research. If you are looking for a worthy charity this year, I suggest

7. Better living through chemistry

All Prozac jokes aside, I take it for granted that when I have a massive headache, I can have an Advil, or if I have a cold, I can take some vitamin C. Even herbal remedies are available (or easily shipped ) . Even as recently as the 60s, treatment options for several conditions were limited, and it’s only been in the past 20 years that we’ve really gotten a grip on what is going on in relation to how the brain works, and thus giving new insight into brain injury, brain tumors, autism, mental health and a host of other conditions. Check it out at

8. That God cares about the little things.

Seriously, the fact that God is even aware that I am doing this silly little list astounds and humbles me.

9. Milk coming out my nose

Remember in fourth grade when you laughed so hard at lunchtime that milk came out your nose? I mean, it hurt like blue blazes, but it touched upon what I think is one of the greatest gifts God gives us that we fail to recognize: laughter. And not just laughter, but unrestrained, guffawing until you start crying, laughing until you throw up type of mirth.

If you have not laughed this hard in a while, then by all means, let this thanksgiving be the time to do so. (well, maybe not the throwing up part)

I’ve been blessed that I have a family with an exceptional sense of humor. Case in point, I once left a voice mail message for my mom, and , out of force of habit from leaving messages from work all day, I told her this message was from Dawn Wilson. Her response?

“Thank God you specified Dawn Wilson, because I would have confused you with all the other daughters I have named Dawn.” Touche.

I have no brothers, but we used to joke about an imaginary brother named Wilson. Then we wait to see if anyone picks up that his name would be Wilson Wilson.

And while this may not get in the “milk coming out the nose category”—here’s my favorite LOL cat vs. a printer. Wait for it. It’s worth it.

10. The flip switch

I know a few physicians who dedicate their time to treating patients in third world countries, and mention that they have to carefully schedule surgeries for “the three hours that the hospital has power.”

I turn on the light switch, I turn my key in the ignition, I boot up my PC, I Netflix the latest Dr. Who episode, I dial from my cell phone and ---unless something has gone wrong—I have a reasonable expectation that something is going to happen 98 percent of the time. This predictability often causes me to take things like this for granted. So that concludes my list of little things that aren’t so little.

Anyone want to share any of yours? Pleace them in the comments below.

I’d like to close with this prayer of general Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.