Janet Sheridan: Some lesser joys

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Janet Sheridan

One year during Thanksgiving dinner, between the blessing on the food and the passing of potatoes, Mom asked us to express gratitude.

“Mention something meaningful,” she said with a stern look at Dad. “Don’t talk about pumpkin pie or being happy your belt expands.”

We started strong. We talked about good health, our grandparents and Lawrence home from Korea. Then Blaine piped up:

“At this moment, I’m most thankful I didn’t have to sit by JL,” he said.

In memory of Blaine’s mettle, I’ve devoted this column to an appreciation of my lesser blessings.

I’m thankful I no longer wear pantyhose. In my 20s, I endured run-prone nylons held up by the garters of a girdle so tight, it discouraged breathing. For the next several decades, I waddled around with the waistband of poorly fit pantyhose bisecting my hips. When I tried elastic-topped thigh-highs, they lost their grip, slipped and bunched attractively around my ankles.

Happiness is retirement, bare legs and wool socks.

I’m grateful for Liquid Fence. Because of foraging deer, Joel and I didn’t bother planting begonias last spring, and we knew we’d soon discover neatly nipped stems where roses once bloomed.

Then we heard about Liquid Fence. After we sprayed it around our yard and survived its initial odor, our bushes escaped stripping and our tomatoes ripened.

I appreciate having a chief financial officer. Joel pays the bills, balances the checkbook, tracks insurance payments, disputes credit card fees and stands up to the IRS.

I help by admiring him — and putting up with frantic searches for missing documents, stacks of paper littering all flat surfaces and occasional snarky comments about my credit-card purchases. I consider such inconveniences a small price to pay for a private accountant.

I’m thankful for the trees in our yard that prevent direct sunlight from lingering on the house. Since the windows are shadowed most of the day, I think they’re clean.

I’m grateful I’m tall, though I didn’t think so during junior high dances when I swayed above a sea of bobbing heads like a heron stalking minnows.

Now I know the advantages: I rarely have an obstructed view, stretch easily to the highest shelf of the supermarket and clean the top of the refrigerator without needing a step stool. I’m easy to find when wandering lost and will never, ever, be called a little old lady.

Praises be for Post-its. I find them indispensable for the 32 lists I make each day: calls to make, tasks to complete, books to read, groceries to buy, items to pack, gardening to do and, for future reference, all the past places I’ve found my glasses.

I’ve stopped short of writing a list of behaviors in need of correction to attach to Joel, but if you see him wearing a neon-green post-it, you’ll know I succumbed.

I feel gratitude for friends and kindly strangers who tell me when I leave home with curlers in my hair, sales-tags attached to my clothing or shoes of differing styles on my feet. Please, never hesitate.

Coffee deserves my thanks. No matter what time I get out of bed, it’s too early. I breathe a sigh of relief when my feet hit the floor, because I know I’ve accomplished the most difficult task I’ll face all day. Such courage should be rewarded by 15 to 30 minutes of silent staring, but Joel, a chirping morning lark, doesn’t get it. Coffee helps.

Finally, I’m thankful for a plucky rose we inherited when we bought our house. We’ve transplanted it numerous times, and each time it rallies to produce a single bud that is destroyed by disease, insects or deer before it blooms. The next year, it tries again.

Each spring, I watch for life in this rose, and my heart sings when I see it.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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