Train whistles and church bells make me grateful, because they take me away from myself and promise something fresh, bright, something more, grander. This post was originally published in November, 2011. And, yes, I know it's not Thanksgiving yet.
Thank God for Thanksgiving. No gifts to buy for the occasion, and if you're lucky, you have plenty of relatives and friends coming to help prepare the feast. But the biggest thing is this: the holiday is truly about remembering what you have to be thankful for even if you don't have the formal This year I'm thankful for.... series of monologues. Besides, your husband, dad, uncle, etc. will just be grateful when the fancy-schmancy sit down dinner can get to the pie, so he can get back to football. And, yes, you know you'll have eaten the equivalent of two sticks of butter fried in lard, but you convince yourself that all those cranberries, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows!), pumpkin ingredients, and green beans will protect your heart from the sucker punch it just received. Anyhow, they don't call it a feast for nothing, do they? And did I mention there are no gifts to buy?
I know what I'm thankful for, even if I complain more than I humbly acknowledge. I do recall what I am most grateful for often in prayer - Jesus Christ, my husband, our children, and all that we are provided for as a family, even this 1240 sq ft home that I could swear is shrinking as my children grow. But there's usually something quite specific each year for which to be grateful, because it gave me added joy. For me this year it was a dance with my husband.
We got one dance. Fast and short. For all the hours I spent last week begging him to practice with me, dragging him up from his favorite recliner after long weary days at work - making him swing me and twirl me and kick it up all over our laminate flooring - all we got was one swing song, one dance on our night out at his company's holiday party.
But the practice was worth it. When all the kids were in bed, we started bouncing, rock-stepping, and jiving to our swing CDs, grinning at each other even when I tripped in my heels, kicked him in the shin on accident, or got a playful smack on the bottom because I failed to follow. It was our dating years all over again, only there was no heavy self-consciousness, not with ten years and four kids behind us. There was plenty of perspiration, however, and more rhythm to be found together when the dancing wound down.
All week I was locked in anticipation of our Saturday night out when we would actually be performing our steps before an audience of his coworkers. It had been four years since I'd gone to the holiday party, and that year I had really bungled our dance, wrecking one of our more complicated moves called the bicycle; Matthew kept throwing me out and pulling me back in for another attempt until I jerked like a nervous tin man one time too many and urgently shook my head.
This year, after my long absence, I was not going to mess it up. As soon as Jump, Jive and Wail! erupted from the speakers, we trotted out. In my little black Calvin Klein dress and my schnazzy, zip-up high heels, I kept step even when my muscles began to ache and vibrate as Matthew picked up pace, spinning me and throwing me out with dizzying frequency. When I heard a spontaneous cheer burst from the crowd, I relished the attention. I only tripped up once, and Matthew quickly masked my mistake like a gentleman. We came off the dance floor laughing and trying to catch our breath, and I longed for another song to swing too. Sadly, swing dancing is no longer en vogue, and despite our desire to step out again, we were subjected to hip-hop until it was time to pick up the kids.
However brief our time in the lights was, I'm so thankful for a husband who loves to dance. When I told my friends before the party how excited I was by this once in a long while chance to go out dancing with Matthew, one of them said, "My husband doesn't dance" and the next pal sighed, "Mine doesn't either" and then the third finished, "Neither does mine". They all laughed, because the tone of voice had been the same, and I inwardly thanked heaven that my man was a smooth dancer and wasn't afraid to show it (he's better than I am - it's the little bit of Latin in him, I think).
So our dance is the thing of added joy this year. When you go out on a date as seldom as Matthew and I do, you really appreciate the opportunity when it comes around once a year or so, and dancing is a huge bonus to the usual dinner and a movie or lunch at the local brewery. Of course it wouldn't have been possible this year if it weren't for a very dear and trusted friend with whom we left our precious children while enjoying ourselves. She put them to bed and everything, so I am also grateful for her kindness.
And tomorrow as I slave over the turkey, stuffing, sweet potato souffle, rolls, gravy and pies I can remember our dance, be grateful for all the calories I burned practicing for it, and reflect on all those moments amid the chaos of our busy lives that I have to celebrate this year.
I hope all my readers, whether family, friends or strangers, have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for your support in my writing, and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.