Narrowing down my 2016 gratitude list to make it small enough to fit in a newspaper column is no easy task. I’ll try anyway.
Last year our toddler boy began getting carsick regularly. He vomited multiple times even while going straight on the interstate. We could get to town and back, but anything else was a risk. Enter Sea-Bands. These little elastic wristbands press on an acupressure point and, for our little man, work like a charm. No vomit mess in a van equals an extremely thankful momma.
Also on the toddler front, I’m so thankful for Paw Patrol because that’s what I’m bribing my little one with for potty-training. Call it lazy parenting, but those cartoons make less mess in diapers for me to clean up.
I’m thankful for food. I don’t need to feel hunger pangs to enjoy the basics. I love our fresh guinea eggs when they’re laying and a warm piece of homemade bread. I love a ripe peach and the first veggies from our garden. And unless you think I only eat healthy things, I’m also thankful for the occasional Coke and bag of Cheetos.
I’m grateful for the table that seats our whole family. I’m even more thankful the election’s over so that we can sit down to a meal without being interrupted by Donald or Hillary calling to ask for my vote.
I’m thankful that we were able to go on a vacation. While driving halfway across the country with little kids has its own challenges, I loved seeing the scenery of Kansas and Oklahoma for the first time. I’m thankful I was able visit the site of Little House on the Prairie because Laura Ingalls Wilder is my all-time favorite author. None of it would have been possible without Juleea, our kind neighbor who took care of the animals while we were gone. Thank you!
While I enjoyed our vacation, I can agree with Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home!” I’m so thankful for my home and the walls that were painted this year. I’m thankful for how well insulated it is and how it keeps out the cold winds I hear blowing outside.
More than any earthly thing, I’m thankful for the blessings of family-- church family, too-far-away family, and the family inside our home. I’m so blessed by my husband who warms up a cloth bag of rice to put under the covers to keep my feet warm at night. I’m thankful for the son who crocheted a colorful bathmat out of cut-up t-shirts for me; the rug is slightly misshapen, but it keeps my feet off the cold bathroom floor.
I’m thankful for the son who begged to stay home from the auction he so badly wanted to attend because he thought Mommy would need his help. I’m thankful for the son who patiently sat in the bathroom telling stories to the potty-training toddler who didn’t want to be alone in the bathroom.
I’m thankful for the little girl who’s growing up into her role of big sister, kindly and gently fixing her little sister’s hair for church when Mom was busy with a fussy baby. I’m thankful for my preschool daughter’s cute little voice; it matches her sweet personality.
I’m grateful for my toddler-boy who keeps me on my toes. His tantrums are fierce, but his hugs are even fiercer. I love those hugs.
And then there’s the baby who everybody adores. She’s been my clingiest baby, but I cling to those hours of nursing and cuddles and care-taking because I don’t know if there will be another baby or not. I’m thankful for those huge baby grins when she plays pat-a-cake or stands up all by herself without holding on to anything.
And most of all I’m thankful for the Son I did not bear but who bore all my sins so that I can find joy in all my other blessings.
I don’t mind the cold weather so long as I’m inside where it’s warm. I’m super-thankful for warm things in winter, especially soup. This soup recipe I found in my Oma’s recipe drawer years ago, and while I don’t remember her making it, I’ve made it a ton of times because it is delicious.
Pennsylvania Dutch Soup
1/2 cup dried white beans
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
1/2 cup dried pinto beans
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/2 cup dried split peas
2 Tbsp. salt
ham hock or ham steak
3 Tbsp. parsley
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
1 chopped onion
1 large can tomatoes
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Put the dried beans in a large pot with the 2 Tbsp. salt and cover with water to soak overnight. In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. Add 8 cups water, the ham, parsley, garlic, 2 tsp. salt, pepper, oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer for 2 hours then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove the ham, dice it, and return it to the pot.