There are the big things we are thankful for this holiday: family, friends, the golden turkey and, for many Americans, more food than we can (or should) eat. I once heard Dr. Bill McGee, of Operation Smile, put it this way, "Just getting born in America is winning the lottery." I love that Americans set aside one day to be intentionally grateful.
Yet that Norman Rockwell painting of the grandmother with the perfect turkey and happy family haunts me on holidays. I am abundantly blessed, but since childhood I have had a tendency to convince myself everyone else has a perfect little family and a Martha Stewart spread except me. I also have a reputation in the family as the cook who brings forth either a partially frozen or flaming turkey to the table. Holidays can make big demands on our psychic energies if we let them.
But this year I've been thinking micro. Here are three little things that have blessed me in the last few days.
You probably heard about Bat Kid on social media. As an 18-month-old, Miles Scott was diagnosed with leukemia. His parents postponed his Make-A-WIsh until he was old enough to remember the experience. Last week the city of San Francisco, along with thousands of volunteers and supporters, pulled together to make a day this kid would never forget. Suited up in his own Bat Kid costume, 5-year-old Miles joined Batman in a black Lamborghini. A police escort took him around the city, on a mission to save a damsel in distress. At first Miles was hesitant, but when he eventually received the keys to the city he gave the crowd a confident fist pump.
What gets me about the story is not only how cool this little boy is, but how much people want to help. Thousands crowded the streets to cheer Bat Kid. We're all sick that we couldn't stop a crazed gunman from killing six-year-old children at Sandy Hook, but the outpouring of love and support for Bat Kid is who we are – I wish we could bottle it.
The Kindness of a Stranger
Another little thing got me this week. I had two small ("good") cancers removed from my forehead, which means I have to make peace with buying gallon containers of sunblock at Costco and wearing hats whenever I go outside (I'll like that part) for the rest of my life. Because I have phobias about doctor's offices, this relatively small procedure was on ordeal for me. Exhausted after two tense days of waiting for path reports, I decided to get bangs to cover the scars (pictured above, under the hat.) This was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and a mistake (I'm not blaming Michelle Obama, but she may have been the subconscious inspiration.)
The small gift was the stranger who washed my hair. She was so concerned about not getting my bandage wet, and her touch was so tender, she brought tears to my eyes. I left the salon feeling healed from the ordeal. (But now I'm stuck waiting for my bangs to grow back. In the future, I must make hair style changes only from a place of serenity, and after a 24-hour cooling-off period.)
And finally, another small gift for which I am thankful. Early on Thanksgiving morning I discovered a voicemail message from a friend telling me how much our friendship meant to her. She didn't need to leave the message - I already knew how important our friendship is to us both, but it brought me joy. I'm going to hang on to it and listen on days when the turkeys get me down.
A community creating a special day for Bat Kid, a thoughtful salon attendant, and a kind voice mail entered my consciousness, but their significance didn't quite sink in. But as I think about them, they make Thanksgiving 2013 memorable. How about you?