Lately I’ve been focusing on gratitude especially as the world seems to have gone mad. Our state and federal legislators seem to have lost common sense and in some cases do and say ridiculous things that have many Americans praying for an intervention. There are just too many issues the average person could worry about between extreme weather, the economy, relations with China, Russia and North Korea on top of any family, health and work concerns they may have on any given day.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed or stressed over matters that we can’t control. Normally, I’m an easy-going person. I love to act silly among trusted people. I haven’t had much to laugh about this past year. My husband, Bobby has been patient with me and understanding of my melancholy. Losing my dad and my grandmother within a month last year has had me feeling like a worn plush toy with the stuffing pulled out in places.
As I’m centering on gratitude I’ve been thinking about things I love. One of them is I love to make others laugh and to laugh so hard I can’t catch my breath. I can begin to giggle just thinking about what I’m about to say or do. Sometimes I can’t continue to relay a funny story. It’s such a release. I really believe it’s medicinal. Lately, I can feel my sense of humor slowly returning like the daffodils popping through the cold earth in the early spring looking for the sun.
Occasionally on Facebook I’ll share a funny conversation with my husband. We have a propensity to make each other laugh. One that comes to mind is a recent Facebook memory I shared with friends about how I tell him I can’t believe the ice cream I’m eating on a winter evening is making me cold. I explain that it’s odd because I’m a seasoned professional ice cream eater. Without skipping a beat, he looks at me and says that even the pros get knocked down to the minors from time to time. Humor is an important ingredient in a marriage.
We hit the jackpot when we met. Our conversations are easy and we put up with each other’s silly shenanigans. We take on supporting roles when the other is involved in a project. We also accept the others’ quirks without question. Everyone has their own particular idiosyncrasies and a life together is much easier if your peculiarities and eccentricities are accepted and more importantly they are accommodated. It’s a sign of respect and as Sheriff Andy Taylor would say, “What’s small potatoes to some folks can be mighty important to others.”
Another thing I appreciate is hands. I notice people’s hands and can picture in my mind the hands of my loved ones. I love the feel of a solid handshake or of my husband’s hand in mine. It signifies safety and comfort. Hands tell a lot about a person. They retell the history of our lives whether it’s a life spent rocking babies, cooking meals, repairing engines or working in the fields. There’s a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that I love about how the palms of our hands are reminders that we are a continuation of all the generations of our family. All of our ancestors are alive within us.
Speaking of hands, I love the weight of a hefty ink pen in my hand. One that let’s you know that you’re holding a writing instrument that can convey your most intimate thoughts, funny anecdotes or a list on the back of an envelope that you’re going to discover you left at home when you arrive at the store. A pen with a ball that glides over paper like an elegant ice skater swirling figure 8s on a rink and reveals my mood by the slant and the tightness or looseness of my cursive handwriting.
I also love a substantial drinking glass or coffee cup. Although I don’t drink coffee, a satisfying coffee cup; particularly old café cups, make me happy. I can still picture my great-grandparents sitting at their kitchen table drinking coffee from their heavy ceramic cups. My grandpa smelling of sweet pipe tobacco would pour his coffee with a dash of milk and sugar into his saucer to cool and would sip from it. For my birthday at the beginning of this month, my present from my mother was my dad’s coffee cup. It’s an old white cup and its interior is a bluebird blue. My sister and I have known that cup our entire lives. It’s been there during Saturday morning discussions in the hub in our house, the kitchen. It’s been a tabletop eavesdropper on conversations involving our lives and plans.
What is it about nostalgia and the recollection of a simpler time that makes us feel safe? During my childhood in the 60s, you could order neat items from the back of a cereal box. My sister and I ate our Cap’n Crunch or Quisp cereal from plastic brown bowls shaped like a log with Woody Woodpecker’s face on them that my mom ordered from the cereal box. I found identical bowls on eBay a few years ago and I purchased them for my sister and myself. You’re never too old to own Woody Woodpecker bowls. I don’t take stock in material things, but the older I become the more I cherish items tied to my family.
I found a toy at the Dollar Tree last week much like one that I had as a girl. It was a rubber circle that you had to slide over your foot and up on your ankle. A rope was attached with a ball on the end. The object of the toy was to maneuver your feet so that ball orbited around your tethered foot while you hopped over the ball with your free foot. My husband and I agreed that at my age with a combination of osteoporosis in my family with a weak body core that perhaps I wouldn’t purchase that particular toy.
Every girl in our neighborhood back then had a bike, a hula hoop, a twirling baton and Barbies. I had a green metallic Spider bike with a banana seat with the white basket on the front as was customary at the time. It was a time when adventure was a daily possibility and that bike provided freedom. I would alternate pedaling and coasting up and down streets in the blocks around my North Kansas City neighborhood with the wind in my long blonde hair. Somehow I didn’t have the same freeing experience after moving to Arkansas trying to pedal my bike on country gravel roads, although my legs got a good workout. The hula hoop was a practiced skill that some kids performed better than others. I can hear the satisfying sound it made, “shunk, shunk” as the beads inside went around the hoop with each hip rotation. It occurs to me now that a hula hoop might just be the ticket to tightening my core if I do not rotate a hip out of socket. The batons were fun to twirl and toss up into the air to catch while imagining life as a performer in a high school band or maybe a circus. Barbies in the 1960s were just coming into their own and ignited young girls with ideas that they could be whatever they wanted, dress stylishly, and live in their dream house with the man of their dreams albeit with plastic molded hair.
Those four toys have stood the test of time and are available to children today. It’s not lost on me that the safest toy purchase at this physical stage of my life that would not require updated health insurance would be the Barbie. It’s the small things of which we should be grateful.
Readers may contact Pam at plowe@ cherryroad. com.