Monday, November 17, 2008


November isn’t my favorite month, though perhaps it should be. Both my birthday and a favorite holiday are celebrated this month. I think it has something to do with the passing of summer; even the glorious reds and golds of fall are gone, but the world is not yet clothed in the white of winter. Possibly it’s the association from my childhood with picking potatoes on frosty, damp mornings while already aching from two weeks of bending over in the cold and mud. It might even be a recollection that it was on my birthday one November that I learned I had breast cancer which began a difficult period in my life. (I’m fine now)

Thanksgiving Day is November’s redeeming grace. Somehow this one day shifts my mood from gray and dismal to warmth and optimism. There’s something about a special meal with family and loved ones gathered together around the table that dispels gloom and invites thoughts of blessings received, a sense of warmth and coziness, and stray thoughts of what I’d like to give those loved ones and those less fortunate for Christmas.

Sure, I love the dinner itself. I like food, and Thanksgiving Day always seems to produce some of the best food of the whole year. It’s a day when it’s almost un-American to not overeat. Even the year my family was moving over the Thanksgiving Holiday and our dinner consisted of a ham my mother cooked over a small stove we called a trash-burner, sliced, and sandwiched between slices of bread and a tin of pumpkin cookies, dinner was wonderful. But as I’ve grown older the best part of Thanksgiving has become a mental enumeration of all those things for which I am grateful.

Indulge me as I share part of my gratitude list. I’m grateful for family. Beginning with my parents, grandparents, seven siblings (and later their spouses), aunts, uncles, and cousins my life has been rich and filled with treasured memories because of them. Growing up in a large family, I always had playmates. Sometimes we fought and teased, but my brothers and sisters are still my closest friends and I love opportunities to get together with my cousins. I’m grateful for my husband and children. Raising five children is surely life’s greatest adventure. I’m grateful for the spouses my children added to our family. They each chose well and my experience as a mother-in-law has enriched and blessed my life. Then there’s my grandchildren; the cutest, smartest kids on earth. (I may be a little biased).

I’ve always been blessed with friends. Even though my family moved dozens of times, there has always seemed to be a special friend at every school, every ward or branch, and in every neighborhood. Some of those friends from long ago still stay in touch with me; I’m grateful for that. Through my years as a reporter, a librarian, and as a writer I’ve made more friends and I treasure them all. Whether we meet by chance at the temple, grocery store, or a book signing, exchange an e-mail or a comment is posted on my blog, a letter arrives in the mail, or we meet for a hasty lunch, these people are special, they lift my heart and make my day each time we connect.

I am passionate about America and grateful beyond words to live in this country. I’m thankful for all those who have fought for my liberty. Two years ago when one of my sons-in-law was wounded in Iraq, my husband and I flew to Washington D.C. to Walter Reed Army Hospital to see him. We were so impressed with the strong positive attitude of all the young soldiers we met there, even the ones missing one or more limbs. Over and over we heard them express their love for this country and for the privilege they believed they were given to serve the cause of democracy and oppose tyranny. I’m grateful there are people young and old who also love this country and are willing to protect liberty. I’m thankful too, that I’ve been able to see as much of this great land as I have.

I’m thankful for the Church and for my calling to serve in the Jordan River Temple.

I’m thankful for the talent given me to write and for the many people I’ve had the privilege of meeting or hearing from through my writing. Some of these people have become my closest friends. They’ve certainly broadened my view of the world in which I live.

In a note I received from my sister today, she asked if I remember the big raspberry fields where we used to show up to pick berries at 5:30 in the morning. I remember, and I’m grateful for the memory, but I’m also thankful I don’t have to do that any more. I’m also thankful I no longer have to milk cows, hoe beans, or irrigate. Yet my rural farm childhood is one of the many things for which I’m grateful.

Indoor plumbing, a microwave oven, my computer, and a rear window defroster are high on my list of modern conveniences I appreciate.

When I was nine, another large family lived with us for a few months while their house was being finished. I wrote a play for most of us kids to act out and spent my small accumulation of coins on a treat to follow our presentation. The play went over well and our parents and older brothers and sisters clapped appropriately, but when it was time for the treats, I discovered I hadn’t bought enough. I did without. Later my mother found me face down on my bed crying. She assumed it was because I didn’t get a treat, but really it wasn’t. All of the other kids were praised for their roles, but no one thanked me for writing the play, directing it, arranging the activity, or even for the treat. I learned that day how much gratitude matters, a lesson I’ve relearned many times as in our careless rush I’ve received no thanks when deserved or given none when I should have.

Here’s my challenge to you. Tell someone thanks for something between now and sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. Write an e-mail or even (gasp) a letter to a parent, a friend, a teacher, or perhaps a soldier just to say, “Thanks for a job well done, thanks for being there for me.” An expression of gratitude brightens the day for both the receiver and the sender. Trust me, I know.


Cheri J. Crane said...

Thank you for writing this wonderful blog, Jennie. =)It is an honor to call you a friend\almost relative.

Julie Wright said...

Jenie, Thank YOU for being such an amazing person. I so appreciate that you've always made me feel okay about myself even though I am just a teensy author. You're great!

Jennie said...

Thanks, Cheri and Julie. And Julie, no way are you a teensy author. You have a remarkable talent and when is your next book coming out?

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Jennie, I loved that post. I want to scoop up that little girl and tell her she did a wonderful job being the brains behind the production! Do you still have the play? (I know, that's beside the point).

What a wonderful reminder. I'm going to write some actual paper thank you notes.

Thank you for all you do. I love our friendship. :-)