I don’t make a conscious decision to be grateful every day. Gratitude is a fact of my life. Every morning that Jeff gets up to take the dogs out, make sure the espresso machine is warming up, and gives me a time-check so I get out of bed on time, I’m grateful. For that matter, every morning he doesn’t do it, because he’s away working, I am grateful for the days he’s home. Every time he plays the piano, we have a family sing-along, we enjoy a meal together, my kids come home from school and tell me about it—I’m grateful. And health? Don’t get me started. Even a paper cut is a gift, after facing down an endocrine disease.
But I spent a solid 20 minutes, Thanksgiving morning, silently condemning myself for being mad about a fireplace. Because what I just wrote, above, is the tip of the iceberg of the aspects of my life that deserve my thanks. I mean, what the actual fuck—so many blessings, one minor inconvenience.
But, (whine, whine) our new, highly-touted, not inexpensive fireplace wouldn’t turn on, for the third time in a month and the second time in a week. I’m not someone who needs things picture-perfect, but it didn’t seem like a lot to ask that the damn thing work when we hosted Thanksgiving dinner. After all, the service guy had been here Tuesday. It worked for six hours. And on a chilly Thanksgiving morning, I found myself emailing the dealer, tweeting the manufacturer and giving myself shit for doing so.
Maybe I would have been less pissy, overall, And more inclined to hold my complaint until after the holiday, if my interactions with the owner of the company that sold me the unit had been better. (He never apologizes, makes excuses, and trips all over himself to justify poor customer service. Um, you’re a fireplace company, so no need to mansplain to me that the cold season is your busy season; but do let me know why you’re telling me how many techs you employ when it’s clearly not enough to meet the demands of your business. Please. I’m not yet at the point where I’m willing to drag the company’s name through the mud. I have faith this will be resolved.)
Still, trying to square the incongruity of material discontent on a day of gratitude was not my idea of a good time. So, I dispensed my electronic complaints—conscious that I could be grateful, too, for the ability to express myself, succinctly—and threw myself into the true warmth of the holiday:
First stop: Pie Breakfast, in which five families bake 90 pies and invite the whole town. It’s a fifteen year-old tradition that each of the five used to take turns hosting in their home, but has grown so big it’s now at Hugo Coffee, fittingly, in the town’s visitor welcome center.
Next, to the market for some last-minute ingredients, then home to prepare for our dinner.
I set the table, had Seth decorate the place cards, and then set about being the bottle washer to Jeff’s Chief Cook role. And what a player:
By the time our guests arrived—each bearing bags heavy with side dishes, dessert, and even more flowers, we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the ability to create a warm, delicious meal for our friends. The trappings of the friendships represented at our table were reason enough to be grateful. We had a family who are new to the United States, new to Park City, and new to our lives, and it felt great to welcome them to our home. The other folks, Keith and Shari, we’ve known since our first year of Park City—whereupon we discovered that Jeff and Shari knew each other in childhood, in New York.
It’s Friday afternoon as I type this. The damn fireplace isn’t on, still, but as we listen to The Piano Guys’ new album, their version of A Thousand Years, comes on—it’s our first listen, so a pleasant surprise—and Seth starts singing from his watercolor-painting perch in the kitchen, I’m warmed by gratitude.