to Be Cheerful
a holiday idea to startle the fam.
Bring a clipboard to the Thanksgiving table. And sometime
between the first sips of pinot grigio and the last bites
of pie, pass it around and around the table. Squeeze a little
gratitude out of everybody.
Too shy to make your family think that hard? Then do it yourself.
Name 50 ordinary things youíre thankful for. None of them
can be generalóyou canít say ďfoodĒ or ďlodgingĒ or ďfriendship.Ē
And your gratitude doesnít have to be high brow; it just has
to be sincere. Believe it or not, all this inventorying the
ordinary will feel really, really good.
Not only that, but I think there is some new research to suggest
that gratitude burns calories, lowers cholesterol, tames lactose
intolerance, counteracts carbohydrates, fights wrinkles, sharpens
eyesight, stimulates brain function, tones abdominal muscles,
melts fat and heightens sexual performance. Donít you feel
more grateful already?
1. Iím grateful the Red Sox won.
2. Iím grateful that my younger daughter still likes me to
read to her in bed at night.
3. Iím grateful for Grade B maple syrup.
4. Iím grateful for early 20th-century French poets.
5. Iím grateful for people who browse at Barnes &
Noble, but buy at the Book House and the Open Door.
6. Iím grateful my older daughter continues to indulge my
unhealthy attachment to backgammon.
7. Iím grateful for antibiotics and antiseptics and antidepressants
and antibodies and antinomianism. (Go look it up.)
8. Iím grateful for Zebra mechanical pencils and narrow-ruled
9. Iím grateful for the Green Street paniniówith extra pestoóat
the 1795 Cafť in Schenectady.
10. Iím grateful for friends who are as depressed as I am
about the outcome of the election; the rising religious right;
the war in Iraq; Israeli-Palestinian relations; our attitude
toward Europe, our attitude toward education, poverty, women
and gays at home; new Cabinet appointments, and the probable
direction of the Supreme Court.
11. Iím really grateful for those friends.
12. Iím grateful that I cry and laugh so easily.
13. Iím grateful that Rod Stewart has only two CDs of standards;
I would be even more grateful if he stopped recording altogether.
14. Iím grateful that I come from a family whose evening entertainments
include impersonating fruits, vegetables and sizzling bacon.
15. Iím grateful we donít even require illegal substances
to move us to such heights of physical comedy.
16. Iím grateful I learned how to cook.
17. Iím grateful my oldest daughter prefers cleaning to cooking.
18. Iím grateful for room service.
19. Iím grateful for Saratoga Springs geyser water, which
I actually like and which my mother thought was as effective
as prune juiceósomething I have never been grateful foróin
20. Iím grateful for the Scotia Dineróand for Lois, who works
21. Iím grateful my dentist is a bit of a nut and that my
massage therapist is obsessed with muscles.
22. Iím grateful that though Targets and McMansions are popping
up all over the region, you can still see a breathtaking stretch
of the Mohawk River where Forts Ferry meets River Road.
23. Iím grateful for Peebles Island, where there are no houses,
and where the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers join their waters.
24. Iím grateful for the smell of extinguished candles.
25. Iím grateful for skin.
26. Iím grateful for soft wool sweaters.
27. Iím grateful for dry red wine and expensive parmesan cheese.
28. Iím grateful for the people whose lives brush mine in
ways that feel gentle and comforting.
29. Iím grateful for being fed up enough to stop trying to
build bridges between people who are much happier with dissension
30. Iím grateful for Glenn Gould, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans,
31. Iím grateful for the third and fourth movements of Beethovenís
fifth symphony; and for more classical music chestnuts than
I care to admit in print.
32. Iím grateful for Johnny Hartman singing ďLush LifeĒ and
ďYou Are Too BeautifulĒ and John Hiatt singing ďFeels Like
RainĒ and Elvis Costello and Tony Bennett singingóseparatelyóďMy
33. Iím grateful I know the Pipsí part to ďMidnight Train
34. Iím grateful for movie quotes. (ďYou talkiní to me?Ē)
35. Iím grateful for some things that are nobodyís business.
36. Iím grateful for not being able to decide upon a single
favorite writer, though Robert Frost, despite his apparent
curmudgeonliness, would score high in the poetry area and
Wallace Stegner, who I truly believe was a good man as well
as a sublime writer, would probably take the prize for fiction.
37. Iím grateful to live in the Northeast, except between
mid-January and May.
38. But since I do, Iím grateful for fatwood and fireplaces.
39. Iím grateful for George Innessí painting ďAt Home In MontclairĒ
which is in the permanent collection at the Clark (though
itís not always up).
40. Iím grateful for the Ketchup Advisory Board.
41. Iím grateful for my estate-sale fur coatówhich should
not even be near the word ďketchup.Ē
42. Iím grateful for Crabtree & Evelyn patchouli bubble
43. Iím grateful for pig-headed, outspoken liberals who know
how to laugh.
44. Iím grateful for soft-spoken, deeply feeling liberals
who know how to mourn.
45. Iím grateful to know both.
46. Iím grateful my older daughter knows how to get royally
47. Iím grateful my younger daughter is every bit as wise
as she is kind.
48. Iím grateful for people who have bumper stickers on their
cars that say ďGod bless everyone. No exceptions.Ē
49. Iím grateful our forebearsí idea of Thanksgiving was to
gather and give thanks, even though they probably didnít agree
50. Iím grateful that, though humans seem hard-wired to carp
and criticize, we remain, as the poet, Richard Wilbur, wrote,
ďObscurely, yet most surely, called to praise.Ē