1.the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to ask you to play a game with me. Let’s call the name of the game “With Gratitude.” It’s only appropriate for us to give thanks on this special day for those things God has blessed us with, right? But this game has certain rules. You must list one and only one grateful thing and it must not be something obvious.
For example, we are all obviously thankful for God, our families, health, homes, friends, jobs, etc. Those are givens.
How about some of the little things that make life so much better. Yeah, I’m talking about things like cornbread (with yellow corn meal and not the yukky white kind), my wife’s killer mash potatoes, seventies music and yes, even though they currently stink, those heartbreaking Razorbacks.
My family played this game, (with my threat of banning dessert for non-players and in combination with my family’s effort to be team players), as we enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal. Some remarkably interesting comments surfaced. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I’d like to share them with you, but what’s shared at our house, stays at our house.
So, to get the game started, I’ll reveal my one item of gratitude. But first, let me tell you a story so you will fully understand my pick. (You knew I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to share a story, right)?
A few months ago, we had some plumbing issues. I’d love to tell you the details of the issues, but trust me, you do not want to know. I’m not sure there is ever an appropriate time to have this problem, but this timing was terrible. Again, I’ll spare the gory details, but it involved my entire, somewhat newly formed family, plus the in-laws of one of my sons, mops in hands, after a marvelous day on the lake, with plans of a fabulous meal cooked outside by yours truly. And again, sparing the details, we will just say the water we were mopping was not all of the clear drinking variety.
To say it ruined our dinner plans would be the understatement of the year. In fact, it affected appetites for a few days. I’m getting a little queasy just telling you about it.
On the positive side, it was a real family bonding experience. Easily revealed is the true character of a person during an emergency plumbing crisis. Let’s just say we now know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And we all have both!
Anyway, all of this brings up another story.
My mom and dad were born in the early 1920s. As a kid, I remember studying about the Great Depression of the 1930s. I once asked my parents to describe their experiences of living through this terrible time. Both responses were exactly the same. “We didn’t even know there was a depression. We were always poor. But we were happy. Nobody had anything, so it was no big deal for us,” they declared.
Later, I remember studying about all the cool inventions since the beginning of the century. So, I asked my parents to share with me the greatest invention in their lifetime. Once again the response was the same for both of them.
My guess would have been things like electricity; or microwaves. How about the automobile? Surely it would be the telephone or the television.
Nope, none of these; not even close. For both of my parents, the over whelming answer was…. drum roll……indoor plumbing!
As Mom started explaining, I remember her much too vividly painting the picture of waking in the morning and having to walk outside in freezing cold to a stinking outhouse to do her business. I could feel her pain in her emotional explanation.
“Nooooo. Mooooomm waaaay tooooo much information!” I exclaim, as I covered my ears and immediately tried to get that mental image of mom out of my head.
But it began to make sense to me. Think about the convenience of water on demand or in her case, the toilet. No more traversing outside to hand pump water.
I remember going to my cousin’s house and getting water. Before we drank, our process included throwing a bucket with a rope into an outside cistern. We pulled that bucket of water up by hand, which then we carried inside and poured into a water bucket. We drank that water with a shared water ladle. It was fun as a kid, but I can see how it could become not fun quick.
My childhood church had a rusty old hand water pump located outside. As kids, we pumped water from it many times. It took several times to get the water primed, which translated, meant look out, water is about to come gushing out and will get all over your Sunday best shoes and in my case pants and occasionally shirt. The water was gosh awful tasting. I’m certain today’s kids would get twenty-five different diseases from it. Not us. We gladly drank from it and kept on playing chase.
I remember occasionally using an outhouse as a kid. Let’s just say I would prefer to never use one, but one could pick their poison. I always picked its use as I was never good at doing it as bears do in the woods. Anyway, either the gosh awful stench of summer or the numb breath-taking winds of winter made this necessary task extremely unpleasant. And I haven’t even mentioned the flies. And try not looking down to see the results of others business. Its like a car wreck. It’s impossible to ignore. But I’m digressing. Where was I?
I recall my dad pointing out to me the previous location of their old outhouse. While he did not come out and say it in so many words, I realized this was no place to tarry. When mowing our yard, I noticed my pace quickened considerably when treading over that gosh awful sacred territory. Visions of that ground deciding to cave and devour one of its ancestor’s offspring, danced in my warped mind. Sometimes I simply mowed around it. I’d gladly take the consequences of my dad’s scolding as I’m certain he would understand. He understood.
I can easily see how a game changer could be indoor plumbing.
So, with the recent images of my family with mops in their hands and our indoor plumbing issues, and the memory of my parent’s declaration of the greatest invention of the 1900s, my one grateful item on this day of Thanksgiving is….
Indoor plumbing. With the seat down. Always!
How about yours?
Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!