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The Cold Annual List of Undying Gratitude

November 20, 2020
48 Vintage Thanksgiving Photos - Retro Photos from Thanksgivings Past

This has become sort of a thing here in The Cold: a quirky, annual list of things for which to be grateful. Maybe you’ll find some of my items a bit oddball – I can’t deny that unlikely things have made my list in years past. Like a swarm of flies that congregated at my office window, and the spooky sound of footsteps at night, when no one else is home. Those might not make everyone’s list the way chocolate cupcakes and puppy kisses tend to.

Hopefully, regardless of whether you share my tastes in gratitude, my Cold list will make you feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside, have you twisting up your face in laughter or confusion, and contemplating the good enough, the pretty damned good, and the great.

Let’s get started:

I’m grateful for our Indian Lady. She’s a portrait given to us by my husband’s friend Amit, who lives in Mumbai. She’s no great piece of art, as our esteemed art historian friend once commented, “But hey, you like her and that’s all that matters,” she said.

As a bonus, Amit prayed daily for our youngest when she was born catastrophically ill, so whenever I look at our Indian Lady, I feel like she’s looking out for us. That, in my estimation, makes her better than any more illustrious oil on canvas, and I’m enormously thankful that she made her way into our lives and onto our wall.

Our Lady of India

I’m ever so grateful for dreams. Dreams of writing books, of booking that trip to a faraway land that’s just a little out of budget, of fixing up our kitchen, of watching our children struggle with an emotion or a skill, and then ultimately achieve at least a provisional mastery over it.

These are the kinds of dreams we scheme for during the day, but I’m also grateful for the ones we must submit to at night, as our unconscious goes to work. The dreams of flying, wingless, above the clouds, of running with wild beasts, of talking to God. Our daytime dreams make things happen, but our night-time ones bring magic into our lives, make us ponder the impossible, and perhaps even give us the courage to go for it, whatever “it” is, as we spring out of bed in the morning.

I’m also grateful for cool, but not cold, fall breezes. I just love those. And for Virginia country gentlemen, who say, “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, ma’am” with an almost imperceptible nod of the head.

I love old Persian rugs, and new music introduced to me by my children: singers and songwriters like Harry Styles, Noah Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey. They keep me current and freshen my tastes, encouraging my mind and heart to remain open.

The truculent, determined sound of a rumbling coal train always energizes me, makes me want to give a loud “whoop”! I feel its growl in every part of my body, and I’m always a little sorry after it has passed. The best place to experience one of these is on the walking bridge that connects our dead end lane to the street across the tracks. Here’s my daughter looking out from that bridge. Can’t you just imagine one of those big, black locomotives screeching and barreling through?

I love dried wildflowers that keep their color, and throwing rotting jack-o-lanterns off the above railroad bridge, then watching them go splat. That’s a Thanksgiving ritual we all look forward to at our house.

And my husband’s new beard is just the best! I’m ever so grateful that he grew it. Makes him look like a slightly dangerous, but endearing amalgamation of Charles Bukowski, the Gorton’s Fisherman, and Pierce Brosnan. He loves that last comparison and I’m sure he’s very grateful that I mentioned it.

My youngest daughter’s freckles truly inspire my gratitude, as does my middle daughter’s outrageously long, curly hair, and my son’s beauty mark, which rests just above his lip.

The original tin ceilings in our house are their own beauty mark upon a historic, but otherwise frugal, industrial-looking structure, as is the smothering ivy that ads so much character to the outer face of our home. Part of me always hates to have to tear it down, even if I know it’s not good for the bricks or the gutters.

Our dog’s face-splitting yawn is day-making! Thank you for that.


Singing Karaoke with my kids after a holiday dinner and a few too many glasses of wine is a blast! And spending just one night in a really fancy hotel – I love that. Just like I love a big city skyline every bit as much as a starlit night in the country. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thanks for:

Nashville, TN.

Charleston, SC.

The promise of New York City and the reality of Texas. Most of all, my stylish, gritty, no no-nonsense and utterly ungovernable hometown of Chicago.

Chi-Town Jazz Festival At The Green Mill, Chicago

Bold attempts at color on a wall, and subtle attempts at color on a face are both beautiful.

But there’s more.

Rag wool socks, a deep breath and a slow stretch, young grass, the way the trees sway in the wind when they’re heavy with summer leaves. Equally, I thrill to the long, bare branches of those same trees in winter. Those resemble the old, arthritic limbs of a forest witch who lures you with gingerbread, but really wants to stuff you into her oven.

I’m also grateful for my mom’s impish laugh, though not always for the reason behind it. You just never know what that woman is up to. And for my brother-in-law’s raspy and snarling Scottish brogue, that’s in complete contravention to his sentimentalist’s heart.

For old family pictures in chichi frames, cars that sport bumper stickers from all the places they’ve been, and for eating at the bar in a fancy restaurant (which isn’t possible in our current COVID world, but I’m grateful that it will be again one day soon).

I love and feel gratitude for my strange, sometimes tentative faith: the way it surges for no known reason, and becomes frail as glass thread on other days. I’ve been told doubt is what keeps faith a living entity within our hearts and I believe that.

I also love moss, busy ant hills, and finding a praying mantis camouflaged in our bushes.

And I just appreciate the h*ll out of goofy, German words that sound like laughter and shouting all at once. Like Schadenfreude, Kummerspeck, and Torschlusspanik. Try reading them out loud. Then try shouting them. Don’t you feel better afterwards, almost like you’ve just had a good cry?

Last, but never, ever least, I’m grateful for all of you who are reading this. Now it’s your turn…pass it on.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

  1. Reva Parks permalink


  2. Deeply engaging and Inspiring! Completely lost myself reading this post.

  3. Super post, Victoria. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. And to you, too, John!

  5. I can imagine a hearty meal at the table. Is that Ray Lamontagne playing softly in the background? And the stories, the conversation. Yes. Lots to be thankful for.

  6. Indeed! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. i love your pumpkin lantern tradition! So unusual, so seasonal. A way to banish the old year’s demons. Thank you for sharing all of your thanks!

  8. Thanks, Roz – I know you don’t celebrate this holiday in England, but the best Thanksgiving I ever had was at a British friend’s apartment in Prague. She made all the fixings and it was delicious and fun as hell1

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