Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. It's a uniquely North American holiday, and if you ask an American you'll find it almost beats Christmas in order of importance on the festive calendar. The purpose of the day is exactly as it sounds. To get together with family and friends and give thanks for all you have.
I lived in the US for four years and as someone who didn't celebrate Thanksgiving as a part of my culture I was always taken aback by how generous and willing Americans are to share their special day. My family never spent a Thanksgiving alone. We were invited to meet extended families, eat pumpkin pie and turkey, plus corn bread, kool-whip and pineapple salad.
So as I thought about my American friends last week I also began to think about what I'm thankful for. My wonderful husband and gorgeous, healthy kids. The fact that our kids have a complete set of grandparents. My supportive, loving parents and my wonderful sister. The closeness I have to my parents and sisters in law. Fantastic friends. Our adorable dog. Our home. Our peaceful country. My happy, comfortable life.
It was a long list, but as I thought more about it I started to go off on tangents, and I realised I'm grateful for a lot of things I would usually overlook. So in the wake of the real Thanksgiving here's a nod to some of the other, smaller things I'm thankful for:
* The button on my car that allows me to close the boot without actually putting my hand on it and pushing it down. Sure, it doesn't take THAT much effort, but an armload of shopping, the drycleaning, two pairs of left behind shoes and a handbag to carry it's a godsend.
* Technology. As I shouted at my laptop today about a forgotten password and my iPhone rang non-stop I also realised how wonderful it is that I can keep in touch with people when I'm unable to actually see them. Skype, iPhone, laptop, sms, I curse you but I am grateful you're there and also that you usually work when I need you to.
* Modern medicine. This weekend I discovered just how good Advils really are. Ditto soothing, anti-red eye drops.
* Online shopping. So far, five Christmas presents have been delivered to my door, ready to wrap and give.
* Insurance. It's a grudge purchase, sure, but when your neighbour's drunk party guest hits your car on the way home, you're loving it. Trust me.
* Rain. Now I can stay inside and blog instead of hanging out the washing.
* The clothes dryer. See above.
* Celebrity chefs. A stretch I know, but these guys seem to be trying to outdo each other in the everyday-great-family-food-at-home-in-minutes-that-looks-like-something-you'd-get-in-my restaurant genre. And for that I am eternally grateful.
* Summer. I wasn't particularly grateful for the change of season until it changed back to winter yesterday. And now as I sit here with cold feet I realise how much I miss it. I don't even feel like a mango. It's not summery enough to enjoy it.
* I'm thankful for having Time. Today is the first day in a long time that I've had the chance and inclination to sit down and blog. It's a luxury to have and it's becoming even more luxurious as the year closes and I stare down the barrel of school holidays.
This is by no means a definitive list, and I'm certain I'll want to add to it within five minutes. But it feels good to take the time to be thankful, whether it's for big things or small. I can't decide which category Lindt chilli chocolate falls into but it's my final addition and I'm very, very thankful for that.