Monday, November 16, 2015

Many reasons to give thanks

From Saturday's Briefing:

We’re nestled in that tiny space in the calendar that allows us time to express gratitude before the rush of Christmas sweeps us into a frenzy.

Sure, we might occasionally purchase a gift or two, RSVP for a couple of parties and start mentally decorating the mantle, but for right now, we’re officially in Thanksgiving mode. It’s the briefest season of the year.

I love ornament exchanges and secret Santas, Nutcracker performances and gaudy light displays. I watch my share of Christmas specials and listen to holiday tunes nonstop in December. Yet I always feel rushed getting there.

This year feels slightly different. At the beginning of 2015, I challenged myself to make every day a sort of thanksgiving. I committed to posting on Instagram one image a day that would illustrate what I’m thankful for. Unlike my past attempts at gratitude journals, which I would earnestly start and then unceremoniously ditch, this project actually stuck.

For 317 days so far, I have posted a photo plus a note of thanks for all the social media world (or at least my small circle of friends) to see.

What am I thankful for? According to my posts:

Good news from the doctor. Plumbing leak repair. An old collection of recipes.

My job. Good books. Sunrises.

Free Slurpees in July. A bouquet of flowers from a student. Our public library.

Even more than good news, food, gifts and special places, though, I am thankful for people.

More than 100 posts of 317 have reflected thankfulness for family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, a barista, even a backpack salesman.

On the last day of spring break, I wrote about Cooper and Katie: “Thankful for these two intrepid travelers. The three of us have forged many adventures together, and with each trip, they show strength, flexibility, resourcefulness and resiliency.”

At the end of the school year, I wrote: “Thankful for the chance to hug Beverly, one of the most important people in my family's life. She has nurtured all three of us, through Steve’s illness and death and through our grief. She believed in my dream to become a teacher and took a chance on hiring me. When I think of her impact on just the three of us and then multiply it by thousands of families, well, I get overwhelmed. She’s nearing retirement, and no educator I know has earned it more.”

This fall: “Thankful for Erin, who has cut my hair for six years, who listens to my stories, who offers a well of empathy, who always makes me laugh and who makes me feel beautiful.”

Not far behind all those people is a pile of thanks for experiences. Movie nights at home, a day on the beach, evening walks on the greenbelt, track meets, band concerts.

From a weekend when Cooper was away camping: “Thankful for small adventures. After church and Sunday school I asked Katie, ‘Should we go home or go on an adventure?’ She leaped at the latter, so we headed to the Dallas Museum of Art for some creating and analyzing. Then I introduced my vegetarian daughter to the Old East Dallas standby Kalachandji's, a veggie buffet in the Hare Krishna temple.”

From a recent day trip to Arlington: “Thankful for short lines, cool breezes, fun friends, mushroom hats and a Pink Thing at Six Flags.”

From our recent Six Flags trip
On even the crummiest of days, I’ve found reasons to give thanks.

A full pantry. A friend who comes to the rescue. A bubble bath.

My list of blessings is longer than I can count. I’ve got everything I need and a whole lot of what I want.

I plan to keep stretching out Thanksgiving, sprinkling it on every day of the year. Perhaps it will prove to be the perfect antidote to the joyful yet manic Christmas season.

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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