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Thankful, Thankful, Thankful

This is one of my favorite annual posts to write.

I have so much, really, for which to be thankful, and it’s an important exercise, this thinking through the abundance of good things in my life.

This year, especially with the relatively homeward-focus of the last several months, my list of those to whom thanks are owed is perhaps a little more personal than last. But there are great joys in the wider world, too, even though, certainly, there are more problems and pains there as well.

I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for this year, too!

  • My kids, of course, but not just in a “they’re my kids” kind of way. Truly, these particular little ones are such a delight: the way that Sam’s mind works (even when he can’t sleep because there are “too many thoughts!”), the love and joy that spills out of my oldest daughter (even to people at the grocery store), the support role that my youngest son plays so kindly, and so well, the tremendous gift that is a baby sister. Every single day, they teach me something about living, and parenting, and I’m so glad that we have so much time, still, to learn together.
  • The Sunflower Foundation: I’m thankful not just because it’s a wonderful group with which to work (even though I pinch myself regularly that I get paid to think and talk about advocacy with these folks), but also because I really believe in the investments that they’re making in nonprofits in our state, and in the difference that their work will leverage on behalf of vulnerable Kansans. They are courageous and smart and fun, and I’m so glad that they’re on our side.
  • My flower garden: So, right now, it’s not much to look at, but I know that it’s there, tucked away in the ground, and that, come spring, I’ll have bulbs popping up and perennials to tend. At one point, a garden was my strategy place; I remember coming up with the idea of a prayer vigil to put pressure on the Kansas Speaker while training the hyacinth beans to climb the gate. Now, it’s a place where the kids and I can work together, or I can be alone in the early mornings or late evenings. It’s something to look at while I wash dishes at the sink or sit with the kids on the patio. And it’s a visible reminder that my dear husband loves me very much, laid out with his hands, watered regularly according to his timers, and carefully mowed around every week in the summer.
  • Some good court decisions (meaning, of course, that I agree with them!). Thanks, in particular, SCOTUS, for not humoring Kris Kobach’s ongoing attacks against immigrant students. And thanks to the federal court ruling that being gay doesn’t mean that you can’t rule fairly on issues involving gays. We’ve got a lot of strains in our relationship, especially you 9 and I, but there were a few bright spots so far this year, and they have not gone unnoticed.
  • My students: Do they have any idea how much it warms my heart to get an action alert from one of them? How I pick up the phone to call Congress in glee, uber-delighted that they are already making an impact on advocacy? Or how I’d really rather have a conversation about one of their optional readings (That they read! Seriously!) than win the lottery? Or how truly kind it is that they don’t call me on the fact that I start every week of policy class saying that this is my favorite topic of the semester? So thankful.
  • Cold-brew iced tea: Who has time to boil water? No one wants to see me on coffee-strength caffeine, but a little iced tea in the morning makes preparing 8 pancakes every day a bit easier. This stuff is genius, and I am truly grateful that scientific minds lent their mental energy to this particular endeavor. Now, let’s get on the malaria-resistant mosquitoes. And a cure for cancer.
  • The public library, ours in particular. I love Miss Beth, who knows my kids’ names and always has a reading selection. I love the fact that I’m not made to feel guilty for incurring late fines–they appreciate the money. I love how excited my kids are to go somewhere that’s free, and public, and how they’ve learned about the importance of the commons. And I love having new books to entertain the kids on cold and rainy afternoons. Hurray for taxes at work!
  • Our neighborhood: I’m thankful for a neighbor who drove us to the doctor in his 4-wheel drive during last winter’s blizzard, for the built-in babysitters across the street, for the communal kid-vehicle storage in our garage, for the fact that, when I can’t find my husband, he’s almost always in our neighbor’s backyard. I’m thankful that my kids’ best friends live within sight of my front porch, and that they don’t have to knock when they run down the street. I’m thankful that we’re building a community, together.
  • Moderates in the Kansas Senate: I’m hesitant to even put this one down, even though I am so, so, so thankful for those Republicans and Democrats in the Kansas Senate who resisted the worst of the policy proposals in 2011, because I’m afraid that they won’t hold in 2012, and that they may be gone by 2013. But I am thankful for them, enough to put aside money for their reelection campaigns, and I’m committed to showing my gratitude in public, so that their voices of reason and compassion are not overlooked, and then silenced.

    What blessings are you counting this year? What do you hope can be on your “thankful” list in 2012? How will you show your gratitude during this thankful season?