Because I am a woman full of good ideas and intentions that rarely come to fruition since I generally forget my ideas before I get out of bed in the morning, I posed my family a semi-challenge to come up with something each day this month that they were thankful for. Really it wasn't my good idea at all but something I stole from someone much more awesome than me on Facebook, and it was only a semi challenge because I forgot to interrogate my offspring daily to find out what thing had truly blessed them that day. Probably my forgetting was somewhat intentional, since I didn't want to hear Kizzie say how she would be thankful if she was allowed to see her friends, or have Aspen give me an I-don't-know-what-you-are-asking-me-can-I-have-a-snack look, or have Halle use the opportunity of my undivided attention to describe the plot of a movie that she is thankful that she really really wants to see in graphic detail. To be fair, Halle did post thankful things on her Facebook, and once even mentioned her sisters, which I have a sneaking suspicion was a hack job by her younger sibling.
In spite of losing track of this project on the family side, I have been trying to keep up with daily mentions of things I am thankful for, and generally speaking, they are frivolous and superficial, like peppermint lattes and Dagny's whiskers. When I really consider what I am thankful for, it seems so general and overarching to dwell on four healthy children, all the bills paid, and a warm house to sleep in, although I am overwhelmingly grateful for those things. I guess I have been trying to focus on the small, specific things from day to day that make me happy. Puppy cheeks and festive coffees definitely do this for me, as much as the peace of mind that being taken care of does. While I haven't kept up with the kids about their thankfulness, I have brought this issue up repeatedly in discussions with Josh, when it seems valid to point out my newly acquired grateful perfection that he clearly isn't equaling. These discussions have opened my eyes to a couple of things: namely, that I might be a kind of frivolous and superficial person, and also, that different things make different people happy. When I ask Josh what (and throw in a meaningful "if anything" jab) he is thankful for, his responses are precisely the ones that I feel go without saying. A healthy family, no major financial concerns, blah blah blah. When I accuse him of being vague and non-specific, he points out that his gratefulness is quite specific in that he is thankful for OUR healthy kids and not the general population of healthy kids, and it's definitely more meaningful than a peppermint latte. Touche. While my basic instinct (which of course I follow up on) is to berate him for "not valuing the little things" and letting life pass him by, which is CLEARLY happening, it begins to dawn on me that for a caretaker personality like Josh, nothing makes him happier than the security of being able to provide for his family and know that we are all ok, even if that means providing puppy kiss experiences and peppermint lattes. As I realize this about him, it also occurs to me that the recent defeat of job rejections for him is a showcase of his potential failure to provide, even though we have no worries for financial survival and he always finds a way to take care of us. For me, I am happy, I am grateful. I am not worried because I know that Josh is not capable of failing us, whether he gets his dream job or not. But for him, it is a dark and looming possibility. The amazing thing about this is that I realize, suddenly, that I have faith in him, and THAT makes me happy. If you had asked me two years ago to have faith in anything, or anyone, I would have scoffed at you. But here I am, trusting, happy, believing. If you had asked Josh two years ago if he wanted a family of 5 girls, 3 dogs and a rabbit to be responsible for, he would have probably scoffed at you and then beat you up. But here he is, struggling, stressing, surviving. How easy it is for me to sit on my couch-like throne and cast judgement on him for not appreciating the "simple joys" of hot coffee and sweatpants and sunshine in the windows, while he is out in the not-so-warm sunshine shoveling thousands of pounds of rocks to make sure the phone bill is paid, the cars aren't repossessed, and I can have my darn lattes. Shame on me. That Josh, in spite of all he has gone through with his quest for a job, and the disrespect of snotty teenagers that he supports with no credit given, and the opposition of 5 women to his sense of manly organization and functionality, is still thankful for our health and security and survival, is somewhat remarkable. It isn't that Josh doesn't have things to be thankful for, it's that his view of life right now is so different than mine that we are made happy by very different things, and while we both have valid points, I am somewhat ashamed for demanding his thankfulness for the silly things that make me happy. In short, I guess I have come to the realization that his thankfulness is something to be thankful for, and him in general, beyond his strong arms and even stronger opinions, the man behind my happiness is pretty amazing. But don't tell him I said that.