A Few Words on Gratitude (Upon My Son’s 5th Birthday)

I wish I had a picture of the look on his face when he saw it.

Money is tight this year, and we blew our entire birthday budget for him on that one gift, bought used on craigslist. With no money left for anything else, we made a box of fake food and then, even though he’d helped to make it himself, we wrapped it up and gave it to him as a gift today. He thanked us and then played with it as though he’d never seen it before, pleased as punch, or at least pretending to be, at such a wonderful gift.

Everett with fake food

His second present from us was a box containing a tiny frying pan from our own kitchen, which he has seen Carey use to cook an egg on multiple occasions. The box also held a small camping pot, some “napkins,” some plastic disposable utensils–all scavenged items from around the house. He exclaimed with delight as he saw just the thing to cook his fake egg, and just the plate to serve it on. He and Eli sat on the living room floor for five minutes, offering us meals served up on the little tin plate, drinks from the tiny cup.

Then we took Everett downstairs, carrying his boxes of kitchen items. The entry to the basement room where his play things are set up puts the main attraction, his new kitchen, at his back. At first, all he could see was the round little table (his own already, simply re-purposed), set up with a tablecloth and a flower in the center. He went to it immediately. “Nice!” he said, all smiles, and walked around it, arranging the chairs “just so.” What a nice birthday gift, his body seemed to say.

Then he turned around and started back toward me, and that’s when he saw it.

The Kitchen

That look. The one I wish I had a picture of. That priceless look of amazed shock that even the most talented of children can’t fake. It’s the look of a person who is so filled with gratitude already that his heart can’t even take in his good fortune. It’s: Oh wow. OH MY. Wow wow wow.

The look passed as quickly as it came, segued into purposeful activity. Food and dishes must be put away neatly. Then there was food to be cooked and served, with great pomp and circumstance, delivered in that little tin pot. Its little camp lid removed with a flourish as each new dish of pizza, chicken, spaghetti, or donuts was unveiled.

Tea was brought. Napkins were utilized to delicately wipe little and big mouths. Scraps of paper were found and then delivered upon the request for “check please!” Conversations were had about the delicious new restaurant, while hard working cooks and owners washed up dishes and neatly put everything away.

I wish I had a picture of his face when he saw it, because I want to write it on my heart as a reminder: This is gratitude.

NO. This is what gratitude DOES when we choose to be grateful for the little things: For the box of fake food we made with our hands and then received back unexpectedly. The tin frying pan we’ve seen in the kitchen every day that now is ours to keep. The wool hat I wear every day, the down comforter on my bed, the cat in my lap.

When my heart is already full of gratitude for these ordinary things, and then the universe, or God, or Mom & Dad, or a blind man or my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend brings just a little something unexpected, something just a little extra… then I get to have THAT look. Oh wow.

And I’d rather have THAT look than almost anything else in the world. I want to go around every day wearing THAT look, feeling like OH MY.

And why shouldn’t I? Every day I wake up and I’m breathing. In. Out. What a gift! Then too: My legs work. My eyes see. My children breathe and walk and talk and laugh. Amazing. The house is warm and dry. My life’s partner is here with me. Oh WOW.

And then I get up, and there’s food in the pantry. And sometimes someone has already made coffee: OH MY. I have clean clothes: INCREDIBLE. The entire Universe seems set to amaze me. There are bright ripples on the lake, and birdsong in the trees, and–oh wow–gas in the car.

I wish I had a picture of the look on Everett’s face tonight to remind me: All it takes is gratitude and I too can wear THAT look.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

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3 responses to “A Few Words on Gratitude (Upon My Son’s 5th Birthday)

    • Thanks, Jaimie! He may well. He does love to cook. Of course, he also loves to build. And garden. And care for animals. But hey–if he wants to learn to be a chef and keep his parents well fed, I won’t complain!

  1. Gratitude…the best Worship of our God. It’s also the best *feeling* we can experience. To wake each day and to be thankful for what we have, who we are, and to know that all these blessings come from a loving Father in Heaven. You’ve instilled these traits into each of your children, and we enjoy seeing them blossom. Thank you for sharing.

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