Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Of Thanking and of Giving

To get myself into the proper frame of mind this holiday season, I have been participating in the Facebook trend of saying what I am thankful for each day. Some days it’s as simple as being thankful that coffee exists. Other days I bring out the big topics, like being thankful that my husband is alive and my kids are healthy.

I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly positive person, taking time to count my blessings (almost) every day. But taking part in 30 Days of Thankfulness has challenged me more than I thought it would. Not only has it been a challenge to come up with something worth posting about every single day, but in the background my life seems to have gotten increasingly challenging day by day. Nothing huge is going on, it just I seems like I have to tread water faster and faster every day.

Annnd 1 & 2 and 1 & 2
and kick & thrash and kick & thrash...
Actually, I lied. Something huge is going on. I have not smoked since November 6. According to the app called Get Rich or Die Smoking, I have avoided smoking 126 cigarettes and saved $44.10. I have also realized some health benefits:
  • Decreased blood pressure (after 20 minutes)
  • Decreased carbon monoxide in blood (after 8 hours)
  • Decreased chances of heart attack (after 24 hours)
  • Increased sense of taste and smell (after 2 days)
  • Improved breathing (after 3 days)
  • Cleaner lungs and improved physical condition (after 2 weeks)
These are all really great super-duper things. I love that the app tracks stuff like that because it helps me stay focused on my goal of getting this deranged monkey off my back, because there is a dark side to giving up nicotine:
  • Decreased patience, resulting in dramatically lower threshold for bullshit
  • Increased probability of me sobbing for no apparent reason
  • Increased mouth pain when eating jalapeƱo squagels from Cosi (see increased sense of taste and smell)
  • Increased discomfort on bus when people have applied their perfume with a fire hose (see increased sense of taste and smell)
  • Increased frustration when my wonkybackism prohibits me from hitting the cardio machines at the gym with as much energy I suddenly have (see, cleaner lungs and improved physical condition)
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely grateful to both God for giving me strength and the dude who developed this app for helping me stay on this path. I’m done with the worst part of withdrawal, and I have far fewer homicidal tendencies than I did the first few days after my last cigarette. I feel like I’ve gotten the physical addiction out of my system and am on my way to being successful in this attempt.

I would like to say I am thankful for having that extra money in my pocket too, but the truth is my pockets are just as empty as usual. I don’t know where the hell that $44.10 actually is. Or how I would have come up with it if I’d been buying cigarettes all this time. Nonetheless, in the spirit of being thankful, I’ve caught myself sharing my non-bounty with others less fortunate than I. As tight-fisted as I am when it comes to spending, I'm far less cynical about sharing. Not that I’m walking down the streets of DC makin’ it rain or anything.
Now where can I get me
some shillings?
But I did give a dollar to the homeless man with the kind eyes and sincerely polite approach one day last week. And I did lend some cash to a friend whose money was stolen and needed to buy groceries for her children. And I did ensure El had the five canisters of drink mix she was assigned to contribute to her Girl Scout troop’s Thanksgiving meals that they donated to five needy families.

Those little things might seem like a drop in the bucket to some of my readers. But those of you who have ever had to count pennies know how heavy a drop in the bucket can feel when your bucket is bone dry. Can I really spare it? Nope. But the people I shared it with in the last couple of weeks needed it even more than I did. Will I continue the trend after the spirit of the season passes? Probably. A dollar here, a dollar there. No huge sums. After all, it’s not like I have a whole lot leftover after meeting my family’s needs.

Less like this.
More like this.

But the fact is – and this is what I am most grateful for every single day of the year – my family’s needs are met. Always. Even when I think there’s no way we’re going to make it through the pay cycle. Compared to so many other people out there, I am richly and abundantly blessed with so much more than I need. Why not share a little with someone who has so much less?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody.

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