Thinking about Thanking

November 23, 2016

Recently I have been meeting weekly with an ESL student to give her practice speaking conversational English and increase her understanding of American culture. Naturally the subject of Thanksgiving has come up more than once.

The first time, she asked me what the word “thankful” meant. That surprised me, since this is not her first year in this country and her English vocabulary seems pretty good. I explained it meant “grateful,” which she did understand. (Which seems odd to me – I would have thought that the word thankful is used more often than grateful.)

(A Google search shows me that some people do distinguish between thankful and grateful, but there does not seem to be any consistency in how the two are distinguished, and other people use them interchangeably. It may be that, to some people, “thank you” is overused to the point of conveying less sense of genuine gratitude. Personally, I consider the two to be synonyms.) Read the rest of this entry »

Giving thanks

November 24, 2011

My list of things I’m thankful for really doesn’t change much from year to year. At least the big things don’t change – friends, family, church, health, a job, a home to live in, good schools for our sons, and the love and grace of God shown in so many ways.

When I think of what I am thankful for, though, I think also of lots of little things. For instance, this fall as I have been trying to eat more healthy foods, I am thankful for some healthy foods that also taste very good. I have come to enjoy quinoa cooked with chicken broth and mixed with peas, black beans mixed with corn and tomatoes, and blackstrap molasses as an all-purpose sweetener.

I have tried to cut out most of the sugar I had been eating, which means no more hot chocolate mix in my coffee, buying breakfast cereals with a lower sugar content, and no more brown sugar in my oatmeal. I also cut out diet pop and other artificially sweetened beverages, because Dr. Ann (whose book Eat Right for Life I have been trying to follow) points out that artificial sweeteners distort our sense of what tastes sweet. I guess she must be right, because last time I tried blackstrap molasses I didn’t like it at all. Now it tastes good, and I use it on my oatmeal, on my buckwheat pancakes, and in my coffee.

Dr. Ann also advises against eating white potatoes, along with white flour, white sugar, and white rice. But she says sweet potatoes are great, which is good, because I like them just as well as white potatoes. She also recommends that people trying to lose weight avoid dried fruit – with the exception of dried apricots, because they are so very healthy. And I have always loved dried apricots, so I’m glad of a reason to eat more of them.

I’m thankful for my bifocals, and for the low price at Walmart and the employee discount that made my new pair of bifocals affordable (about a fourth of what it would have cost at the clinic where I got my exam and prescription). I had put off getting a new pair, because I remembered how much the old pair had cost (at the clinic), even though that pair was nearly useless. I used a cheap set of reading glasses for the computer and other reading, though even with those I found myself squinting more often in recent months. And as for seeing things in the distance – things were blurrier with the glasses on than without them.

So I wasn’t surprised to find out that I am now slightly farsighted instead of nearsighted. Or that the prescription I needed for reading had changed a lot. What I was surprised was to find out that even bifocals cost less than $100 at Walmart now. I still can’t quite see the eye of a needle (but as someone explained to me how to use one of those wire needle threaders, it’s not a big problem), but I can read the clues to the crossword in the Friday Wall Street Journal without a magnifying glass. And things are nice and clear in the distance.

I’m thankful for the internet, which gives me the opportunity to have this blog, play Scrabble with a friend in Maryland, read the news from a number of sources, keep in touch with my sister by email, and look up all sorts of information. This week, for example, I found a recipe for a (relatively) healthy pumpkin pie, with no fat except in the eggs, the chopped nuts in the crumb crust, and the canola oil that I used in the crust in place of butter or margarine. I also cut down on the brown sugar (and used blackstrap molasses!), so it isn’t as sweet but still tastes quite good.

I am thankful for silence, when I can have it. One of the Plinky prompts this week asked, “Does silence make you uncomfortable?” I was going to answer, “Not at all! I love silence.” But my husband was listening to something on his computer (I don’t remember whether it was Rush Limbaugh, a TV show, or just some of his favorite music. And I find it hard to blog when I don’t have quiet to let my thoughts flow. I can faintly hear the washing machine downstairs, and the sound of the keyboard as I type, and the faint whir of the ceiling fan. But it’s pretty quiet right now.

Those are the kinds of things it’s easy to be thankful for. This column reminds us to be thankful for difficulties as well, because of what they teach us, and because they make us stronger. I do try to take that attitude toward difficulties when I am facing them. But when I sit down to list what I am thankful for, somehow those don’t seem to come to mind so quickly.

And because I am likely to miss some important things when I do try to list what I am thankful for, it is good to be able to borrow words others have written. For our prayer before dinner today, I printed out this thanksgiving litany from the Book of Common Prayer (another handy use of the internet, since I don’t own a copy of that book). And that’s one more thing I’m thankful for – books in general, whether for entertainment or education, but especially those that pass on wisdom that has stood the test of time.

Thanks giving

November 26, 2009

I ran out of tiles and room on the board, or I would have added GAMES such as Scrabble – particularly since it gave me a way to creatively express some of what I am thankful for.

I was going to make it a crossword puzzle, and give descriptions for each word, telling why I am thankful for each. But I know some of you are not aficionados of word puzzles the way I am. Plus that would have taken a lot more time, and I still have to cook corn casserole and green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.

Most of these are self-explanatory, but I will add notes on a few of the words. Speaking of words, I was going to write WORDS, since I have so much fun with words, but I had no more S tiles. Then I realized it could mean the Word of God, so I was happy to leave it in the singular.

WIT can refer both to intelligence and to humor; I am more gifted in the former than the latter, but I greatly appreciate others whose humor enriches my life. (Note that WIT is linked to LAUGHTER.)

I am thankful both for the FREEDOM I have as an American, and the FREEDOM I have in Christ.

I am thankful for the opportunity to communicate with GOD through PRAYER. And for the PRAYERs said by other people in my behalf.

PIZZA seems a bit out of place with the other, more profound things I am thankful for. But I wanted to use every tile, and I do appreciate pizza – both for it being a delicious one-dish meal (if it has lots of toppings including vegetables), and because when I am tired it is so easy to prepare dinner when I have a pizza or two in the freezer. (In case you have noticed that there appear to be two Z tiles, while Scrabble only has one – I used a blank tile, and digitally copied the Z to the blank tile.)

The final “word” in the puzzle, OXO, represents hugs and kisses. The kisses are for family members, but to all friends and family, I extend a warm hug and wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving ABC’s (concluded)

November 26, 2008

So here I am, at the end of the alphabet. It’s not quite Thanksgiving Day, but I expect to spend a good deal of tomorrow driving to Michigan, then visiting with relatives. I may have a chance to get on the internet, but I’m not going to plan on it. So here is my Z post.

I know that men’s trousers  must have once used buttons to close the fly (an early advertisement claimed that zippers would prevent “The Possibility of Unintentional and Embarrassing Disarray”), but I have trouble visualizing what it would look like. When I weighed more I tended to look for elastic-waist pants, but I am glad now to be able to find properly-fitting pants with zipper closures. And it’s hard to think of a winter jacket without a zipper (though my favorite winter jacket’s zipper stopped working yesterday, and I switched to another one, that doesn’t have a hood). And as I’m packing for our Thanksgiving trip to Michigan, I wonder, how would you close a suitcase without a zipper?

I’ve never been that big a fan of zoos myself (at least I don’t think so – Margaret might know better as to my younger years), or of learning about animals in general. My interests tend more to non-biological sciences. But as my younger son currently has great interest in animals, I’m glad that there are zoos to take him to, to encourage him to pursue his interests. Zoos these days don’t just display animals, they provide kid-friendly displays to teach about animal habitats, the food chain, how the particular characteristics of each type of animal enable them to survive in the wild, and other interesting facts.

Zachary (my older son)
Hard-working (mostly), considerate, honest, very smart, talented musician, good big brother, follower of Christ. I spend less time with him now than with his little brother, partly because his little brother needs extra attention – but mostly because Zach is growing into a responsible young man, able to deal with schoolwork and rehearsals and chores around the house with little input from me. (He did call today to ask me when to put the bleach in the white load in the washer.) And now that he has his license, he’ll be able to drive himself where he needs to go without me. A part of me may miss it (not the part that likes to sleep instead of getting up to go get him when his bus returns from a competition well after midnight), but I also look forward to seeing him go out in the world with the confidence that he can face the challenges of adult life.

So I’ve gone from A to Z, and thought of lots of things I might not have remembered to give thanks for as I enjoy the turkey and the visit to relatives we don’t see often. And I’ve learned some interesting things, which I also enjoy and am thankful for the opportunity to learn.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving ABC’s

November 2, 2008

I noticed today that Thanksgiving is 25 days away – 26 days if I include today. That means that if I started today, and finished on Thanksgiving Day, I could use one letter of the alphabet each day. I happen to like making lists using the alphabet. On a long road trip, I can occupy my mind for quite a while trying to think of at least three words for each letter of the alphabet in some category, such as food, things that are yellow, first names, etc.

To focus my mind on what I am thankful for, I decided to do that by the alphabet. So today’s letter is A. I am thankful for:

I’m not thrilled with any of the choices to vote for in the presidential election Tuesday, but I am grateful to live in a country where I do have choices, and where I can vote without fear of intimidation. I know that the voting process is not perfect, but it’s pretty good, and a whole lot better than in many parts of the world.

Alaric (my younger son)
Al made his own list of what to be thankful for at church this morning: food (he drew a chicken drumstick), water, shelter, and family. I am thankful to have a son who is also learning to be thankful.

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