Monday, December 12, 2005

It's GIFT WEEK Here at ABN

All this week, the subject is gifts - and not just STUFF but the generosity and gratitude aspects as well as... many others, so stay tuned!

MONDAY: The First Gift: Thanks (and Some Gifts Which Have Mattered to Me)
TUESDAY: It's the Thought (and the Whimsy) That Count
WEDNESDAY: Giving of Oneself in a Material Age
THURSDAY: Things I Have Enough Of
FRIDAY: My Wishlist!

And so... the first gift is what Thanksgiving is all about. The first gift is thanks.

Best if we give thanks even before thinking we might receive. Saw a T-shirt in Target recently that was one of those smirky holiday goofball designs, and it's bold green and red slogan said, "It's the thought that counts," as if, 'Hey buddy, you're gettin' to read my T-shirt. What more do you want?"

What a smirky society we live in. Shame on Target, usually classier than that.

We've belittled generosity and thanks to such an extent that I sometimes get the feeling, as I go around the stores in December, that people are just as excited to snap up half the holiday loot for themselves. And what's this RUSH, anyway? Why a rush to pile it up and make the pile higher and higher? The Grinch stole Christmas, but HE gave it back.

We get some good cheer this time of year and some whimsy, and we get to see grown men even in the grocery store and places like Home Depot wearing silly Santa hats, but we get those long lines and that sneer, too.

I was in Lowe's tonight, and a man wispered under his breath, "fucking lazy bitch" after a cordial cashier directed him to customer service. I went up to her and asked if she'd heard him. She had. She'd admirably let it go, turning the other cheek, as it were. But I commiserated with her, wistful that some/so many just don't seem to get it about the Christmas Spirit.

She thanked me. I thanked her. We felt better, both of us I think, for realizing that letting some things go is an ok way to be. Otherwise, what? Lowe's rage? Target rage? Mall rage? Parking lot rage? It's bad enough that the Christmas Spirit doesn't seem to lend itself too well to our parking lots, roads and highways. There must be something very un-Christian or un-Jesus like about cars, about driving, about being behind the wheel (and the windshield) of a large automobile.

But the idea is to be glad we are alive, to give thanks for that in and of itself, whether or not the latest fad toy is out of stock or not, whether or not some hypocrite just cut you off in traffic.

And whether or not we love (or even need) what we're being given, giving thanks first feels good, and its not so hard. It doesn't have to be sickly sweet and overwrought, just cordial and warm. You can straighten out the sizes and the regifting later, for gosh sakes. Someone has just given you something, even a handful of red and green M & Ms, and it IS the thought that counts. So count it. Feel it.

Give thanks often. I do more often than ever before, even in the face of serious, perhaps unmendable animosity, and I've got to say, I feel better for it.

So thanks has its own rewards, for the thanked and the thankful.

ADDENDUM: In the spirit of being thankful for what I have received, I've been going around the house the last few days writing down everything in site that was given to me - and picking out some of the things, simple and not so simple, that I still use and cherish - and continue in my mind to thank the person whose gifts they were:

*** A white five-gallon work bucket with a red ribbon around its rim that says "joy joy joy joy...", from my sister Laura.

*** A Lands' End leather jacket, plain and simple, from my friend Rhonda.

*** A sage-colored Patagonia "sherpa fleece" jacket, from my friend James.

*** A replica 8' Pueblo Indian ladder, from my friend Judy.

*** CDs, Brahms, Beethoven, Bernstein, Orff, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, from my father Gene.

*** An Indian pattern Pendleton blanket, from my friends Mary and Duane.

*** A canvas L. L. Bean tote bag monogrammed with my "Coyote Guy" nickname, from Laura and husband/friend John/

*** The first burlwood bowl my friend Raul ever made.

*** The book "What If the the Buddha Got Stuck?", from my friend Heidi.

*** Books, "Flow," Einstein's Dreams," "Ishmael" and "The Songlines" from my friend and mentor, Charlie.

*** Four big vintage Love Field brand crocks, from my friend Raoul D.

*** A woodcut silouetter of a coyote my friend Sam made for me.

*** An authentic Mexican Nicho with decorations inside, from my friend Beverly.

*** Two silver rings, one from Claire, one from Gretchen.

*** The red Kirkland bicycle touring panniers my parents gave me as a teenager.

*** Large windchimes in the front yard, from Beverly.

*** The book "Big Bend", from Gretchen.

*** Two mirrors, one from Judy, one from Raoul D.

*** The book "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book", from Laura.

*** Mounds of garage sale fodder, including some good finds, from friends Cecilia, Sandy and Raul.

*** A translucent red glass heart, from my friend Susan.

I could go on, but for now, thanks for all this and more.


Post a Comment

<< Home