Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Little Things Mean A Lot -- And Aren't So Little

From today's Times and News-Star

This is the time of year when we traditionally give thanks to George Halas for inventing the NFL, to Bubba Chinet for inventing the plastic fork and paper plate, and to Dorcas Reilly, a staff member in the home economics department of the Campbell Soup Company in 1955, for inventing the green bean casserole.

Dorcas Reilly. Momma D. Queen of the Kitchen. They don’t name ’em like “Dorcas” anymore.

But they do MAKE ’em like that still, if it’s green bean casserole we’re talking about. Dorcas set the simple standard, and now her dish is a Thanksgiving Day classic.

Thank you, Dorcas. ’Preciate it. Were it not for you, there would be a lot of homeless cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup walking around.

Maybe there is something to learn from Dorcas here, from how she thought to invent something when asked to come up with a quick and easy dish made from basic things you’d have hanging around your kitchen on any given day. If we apply that same thinking to cooking up a gratitude list, we can look around right now and see what we’ve got handy to be grateful about.

Few things are as humbling as realizing all the simple things we can do that some others can’t. Just to be able to look around, for starters. To be able to walk to the bathroom. Brush your teeth. Afford toothpaste.

Just to be able to dress yourself. To have clothes to wear. To be able to tie your shoes, maybe walk to a car, maybe drive it to a job or to the store or to a friend’s house.

Some people -- more than we care to think about? -- can’t do any of those things.

This morning before 7, a dog had pooped in my car. Tough break. Just dealing with the fact that that really DID just happen is enough to get your emotional center out of whack. And, once you accept it, I promise you it’s more than enough to get you to pull your car over.

There are two ways to react when your day starts like that: either “It’s gonna be one of those days,” or “Surely it can only get better from here! Sweet!”
So I started my gratitude list, as I’ve been instructed, in those fragile moments after this mini-disaster. And decided that, first of all, I love that dog, though her colon, not so much.

I’m thankful for the animals my son grew up with, for Elfie, for our supplemental dog Spot, and for Jingle Bell, the cat who thought he was a dog. What a break, to have those three for as long as we did.

I’m thankful that when I was only 8, a group of five grown men let me go with them to the South Carolina football at Clemson, a day I have never forgotten and never will forget. They didn’t have to do that.

From that same year, I’m thankful for the farm mom who taught me, in about two minutes, how to drive a tractor. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to work since then, thankful for the jobs I have, for the people who I work with who could be mean or short under pressure but aren’t.

I’m thankful for good green bean casserole and bad, because even if it’s bad it means that at least somebody’s trying, and thought enough of you to share. Besides, in general, things could always be worse. We could be the seat of my car.