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A Cold Eye for Giving Thanks

November 22, 2019

FB Cold grey adMy quirky, at times misty-eyed scroll of various people, places, and things I’m grateful for in my life has become something of an annual event here on Cold. It started when I wrote a simple letter of thanks to my writing colleagues a few years back and escalated from there.

I usually write this post over a period of days because I want to make sure that I don’t miss any of the stuff that I’m glad for. Taking my time about it also extends the glow of feeling gratitude over a longer stretch. There is a genuine high in taking an inventory of your life and celebrating its virtues. It’s why I love Thanksgiving, despite its dubious origins. It makes us better people and is worth keeping for that reason alone.

So, my fellow thanks-givers, here goes:

My dog’s breath – I love it. Namely because it’s very sweet (for a dog). This good boy keeps secrets and tells no lies. He’s too good for us, really, and the love he’s brought to our family has been nothing short of a marvel.

Char Bar BW


And I love those cold, rainy Sundays when we decide to skip Sunday School and let the kids sleep in. That’s a wonderful indulgence, even if we feel the tiniest bit guilty about it. Especially given our spotty record at showing up to church.

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be quite so grateful for rainy Sundays…

But I’m definitely grateful for snow storms that make our whole family gather around our ancient wood-burning stove to keep warm. The electricity goes out for a few hours, and forces us to huddle together in our living room the way people used to before technology made each man an island.

I’m enchanted by the hot, damp faces of feverish children, and relish great horror movies, too. And isn’t it an otherworldly thrill when the wind howls? I always feel like it’s trying to tell me a long forgotten tale of love and loss. I bet Boris Pasternak was listening to the wind when he got the idea for Dr. Zhivago. The way it made his windows shudder and he could hear the creepy pitter of nuts and twigs as they blew across his roof. Perfect background percussion to Lara’s Theme.

Even though part of me can’t wait to fix up the exterior of our old, weather-worn home, I do have a certain fondness for the peeling paint that makes it look like the Addams Family are our close cousins. Truth is, as much as it would be nice to see the fabulous old crone we live in dressed up like she’s going to the theater, I’m grateful for her every scar and imperfection. It’s evidence of some two-hundred years of providing shelter to rag tag bands of Virginians – soldiers, musicians, spinsters, hobos, railroad engineers and us.

Jo monster

Josephine Addams Dougherty

I’m ever so grateful when my daughters fight and make up. After the insults have been hurled along with the slaps and scratches, it’s good to see them, still red-faced from an angry cry, sit down to design a house together on Minecraft. Merci beaucoup for that, mon chers.

Planning a Thanksgiving meal is ever so satisfying, too. Much better than actually cooking the meal (although eating it is the best!). Speaking of holidays, I feel a lot of gratitude for the charms of this season. I giggle at my husband’s cranky, bah-humbug attitude towards Christmas, as well as my middle daughter’s iron determination to gussy up our house and fill it with holiday cheer regardless when her dad thinks about it. My mom’s Czech Christmas cookies are little works of art, and our Christmas Eve ritual of going out for a decadent lunch of chili dogs and root beer floats is nothing short of divine. Ho! Ho! Ho!

C, A, J

Waiting for our junk food extravaganza

Lady GaGa and Rihanna turn my morning commute to and from my kids’ schools into a lollapalooza of car karaoke, every South Park episode is a miracle, and the bumblebee bat (smallest bat in the world and cutest thing on the planet) is proof of a loving God.

Sunflowers, lilacs, busts of America’s founding fathers, the gorgeous and nightmarish paintings of Goya, and the mod fashions of pre-revolutionary Tehran that looked like they were straight out of swingin’ London in the 1960s. All of these things make me wistful, inspired, and beholden to the powers that be for making me human at this particular date and time.

I love and am so thankful for elegance, the belief in things we can’t prove or explain, abandoned spaces, the moss that grows on the red brick walkway leading up to our front door, talking art instead of politics, rising to the occasion – especially when it’s hard, and the Victrola our son gave us last Christmas – it sounds so great in a big room full of books and emboldens us to add a few more nics to our pine wood floors.


Photo by Krista Paolella

Ah, the sublime first few weeks of a bad habit – those are halcyon days! How about live music on a Friday night? That, and belly dancers. The way their hands move like calligraphy and their hips burr like a drum solo. Oh, and let’s not forget 1970s Playboy magazines. My older brothers inherited our “uncle” Nick’s dirty magazine collection when we were kids and from that day on, Playboy dominated our imaginations! Not only was it a celebration of real breasts and faded jean shorts, but of smart thinking and great writing. Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac, Margaret Atwood (yes, The Handmaiden’s Tale author), Ursula Le Guin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez all wrote for Playboy. It’s not an exaggeration on my part to say that Playboy was not only responsible for a certain part of my sexual awakening, but for a literary arousal within me as well. How many things can you say that about?

Candelabras are holy, as is visiting family and friends in good ole St. Louis, Missouri. I’m also grateful (or should I say “much obliged”?) at the mere existence of Texans. I’ve never met one I didn’t like. Maybe it’s the fact that – in my humble experience – they’re the type who take the time to offer kind words. A lot of people think nice things and don’t voice them. Some don’t even think them. So, having the grace and manners to tell a middle-aged woman she’s looking fine, or a young woman she’s whip smart and has a helluva sense of humor, is worthy of gratitude.

So, in that spirit, I want to thank all of you – friends and readers. Honorary Texans. For your kind words and generous thoughts. For being a part of my life in ways big and small. You’re the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving at our place



From → family, love

  1. Thanks for sharing. It does me good to know that not everybody has gone off the deep end and that there are still people like you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Yes indeed, there is so much to be thankful for; the flu is over, I quit smoking 7 days ago and I feel wonderful, heading to Little Rock tomorrow to spend four days with my baby brother and see his new (old) rock home built in 1927, and at least 100 cup runneth over! As always, your beautiful words evoke pictures in my mind that, like a flip book, fire off rapidly, vividly, wildly….you breathe life into the ordinary and release them to become the extraordinary! Happy Thanksgiving my beautiful friend, to you and yours! I wish you nothing but the best! ❤️🥰💜🥳🐝

      • Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! Have a wonderful time with your brother – his house sounds amazing.

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