November. The month when we list out what we’re thankful for.
I taught a children’s lesson recently. Since it’s the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, why not utilize the obvious theme of gratitude? Yes, that’s the topic I chose. Have you ever asked a group of kids, ages varying from 4 years old to sixth grade, what they’re thankful for? A sampling of the responses:
- my parents
- mac and cheese
- Air Jordans, KDs, etc [which I simply labeled as shoes….and I have to agree with the kids on this, as I do love shoes, although I do not presently own any named after NBA players]
I am grateful for a myriad of things and people. My kids. My house. My car. The cheese variety at Trader Joe’s. [I am off topic here, but did you know, dear reader, you can be addicted to cheese? Read this: Cheese really is crack]
Today though, I’m particularly thankful for heat. You see, upon waking up this morning, my daughter and I realized our furnace was not working. We also discovered a light dusting of snow outside, meaning of course it is quite chilly here in Lexington today. Me, being the mechanical engineer which I am, researched and observed the goings on in the basement/cellar/scary.place.filled.with.cobwebs and discovered perhaps the pilot light had gone out. I watched a youtube video and attempted to re-light it. It didn’t work so I texted my neighbor. He was not home but explained in detail how to re-light it, mimicking nearly word for word the youtube video narrater. After attempting again, to no avail, I finally decided I should perhaps read the instructions on the panel I had to remove to get to the actual inner workings of the furnace. The instructions informed me I could not re-light the pilot light. It did tell me I could try the old turn off everything for five minutes and then turn everything back on and see what happens. Well…..I’m quite familiar with this methodology as it’s my go to for all technological issues. [is a furnace a form of technology?] Needless to say, it did not work. So I called Fayette Heating and Air. They were able to send a repair man, despite the fact it’s Sunday. And he came, supported my idea regarding the pilot light issue, and soon discovered the problem. Which went beyond simply needing to light the pilot light. The ignitor was broken. So, without giving you a play by play of the repair, I will inform you it is now fixed and our heat is working. Which is a very good thing because if I had my druthers, I’d live in Hawaii. Why everyone doesn’t live in Hawaii is truly beyond me.
The entire situation reminds me of a book I’m reading, In the Unlikely Event. Which no, has so far nothing to do with heat or furnaces. It has to do with multiple plane crashes in one town. Judy Blume wrote it and I actually convinced my daughter it is based on what happens to Margaret after she grew up. [it’s not and if you aren’t familiar with Judy Blume, you will not get this at all…..sorry]
Anyway, I suppose it’s the title that correlates here. In the unlikely event…..
- you wake up on the coldest day of the season thus far and your heat isn’t working
- you realize that [wow!] holidays are different now [you can fill in the blank as to what “now” means to you]
- you are not where or who or what you thought you’d be [meaning life can bring some doozy changes]
- your daughter coaches you on the next steps you should be taking just as much as you coach her
- you think back to your two favorite female college professors and realize they might not be so proud of your career success or lack thereof
Here’s the thing. Life doesn’t always end up how we thought it would, does it? I think that particular fact is magnified during the holiday season. For better or for worse. Maybe your life is much more pleasant than you ever expected it could be. Maybe it’s just plain different, neither positive or negative. Yet, it has turned out in an unlikely fashion. Not what you foresaw once upon a time.
People start spouting off. What they’re thankful for. And sometimes it’s hard not to envy. Not that I want their lives. But for mine to be better. The memories gone. The regrets and questions. The Thanksgivings which were frankly, not so great. Erased.
So I think about the unlikely event of a holiday season with none of it. Only joy. Only expectation met. Which is as unrealistic as me being able to repair my own furnace.
I read a couple of verses this morning and I’ll paraphrase:
In the unlikely event the trees don’t blossom
In the unlikely event there is no fruit and no food
In the unlikely event I’m basically left with nothing to eat or buy or sustain myself with
I will still be thankful.
I am fortunate in that I have much, much to be thankful for. And I’m fortunate in that I can, once in a while, feel sorry for myself and cry in the shower and there’s no harm done. I look forward to holiday time with my kids. We even bought a new Christmas tree. I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and days off. And in the unlikely event it’s the best holiday season ever, I will express my surprise and joy.