Why “Thank You” Matters

The power of a “thank you” is more important than you’d think. Most of us were raised to say “please” and “thank you;” the former is simple politeness, the last is a gracious acknowledgement of kindness, a gift and so on. When someone has taken the time to present a gift, it deserves a thank you.

My lesson about this happened when I was quite young. An older woman, a friend of my mother, gifted me with a brass pin of hers. I didn’t like it; but a stern look from my mother told me to be gracious and thankful. I thanked the woman and told her how much I loved jewelry and that I would cherish the pin (in fact, I still have it!) The smile on the woman’s face made me realize how important a thank-you is.

Saying “thank you” is a lot like sending a thank-you note to someone who has sent you a gift. The thank-you lets them know that 1) you received the gift, and 2) that you appreciated it. Now especially as Christmas is coming near, it’s a good time to remember thank-you notes. Of course, if you are sitting there with the person you gave the gift to, there is a spoken thank-you and probably a hug or two. But even then, a thank-you note later on means a lot.

I realize that things are much different these days. However, the gift of a “thank you” still means a great deal. Now that the Crankee Yankee and I have two grandgirls, we are always tickled when they run to us, hug us and thank us for their gifts. Especially during these trying times with the pandemic looming over us all, a thank-you means more than you realize.

“But You’ve Seen This On TV/Or Read This Book Before!”

There are movies that I have seen over and over again, such as any of the Harry Potter movies. Not only have I read all the Harry Potter books, but I have seen every Harry Potter movie more times then I can say. This is something that the Crankee Yankee just doesn’t understand; to him, you see a movie and that’s that; you don’t need to see it again.

But I think differently. First of all, I love all the Harry Potter movies, and I know what will happen and so on. It’s a lot like how I feel about re-reading books. This used to drive my mother nuts; she considered that re-reading a book was just a waste of time. But I don’t feel that way; I happily re-read books I love, and I happily watch movies I love.

Oh, I get that most people don’t feel that way, but so what; my watching all the Harry Potter movies hurts no one. I’m the kind of person who loves to say (to myself, usually); “oh boy; now this, that or the other thing is going to happen!” It’s just one of those “to each his own” deals.

For example, I still love it that I went to Hawaii last spring (the Crankee Yankee’s gift to me while he renovated the kitchen), and I still say “maholo” (“thanks” in Hawaiian) to him. It’s sort of the same thing for watching TV; I may have seen the whole thing before, but I like to see it again.

My mother was like that about books; she considered re-reading a book she had already read a huge waste of time. She never did understand why I loved re-reading a good book. But to each his own.

Re-reading a book you’ve read before or seeing a movie you’ve seen before is no crime. We love what we love, and that’s no crime.

Keeping the Wonder

Every morning when the Crankee Yankee and I get up, all of our five cats line up for their breakfast. While this is very cute, we humans would really like to sit down and sip our first cup of coffee for the start of the day. But of course, being the softies that we are, the cats get their breakfast long before we get ours.

Once the indoor kitties are taken care of, I go out of the front door and put out a dish of kibble and a bowl of water for our morning feline “frequent flyers.” I have no idea if they belong to anyone, but I can’t not feed them; I’d rather be sure they have something to eat than not.

When I go out, it’s pitch black and the sky is full of wonder; all the stars are out in glorious splendor, especially Orion and Cassiopedia. From Earth Sky:

“The constellation Cassiopeia the Queen can be found high in the northeast on October evenings, not far from Polaris, the North Star. At any time of year, you can use the Big Dipper to find Cassiopeia. These two star formations are like riders on opposite sides of a Ferris wheel. They’re part of a great spinning wheel of stars seen moving counter-clockwise around Polaris, the North Star, once each day. As Cassiopeia rises upward, the Big Dipper plunges downward, and vice versa.”

All that said, it’s a pretty good way to start the day, even when it’s dark outside. I call it keeping the wonder. And how wonderful it is!












The Thanksgiving Aftermath…

As we all know so well, Thanksgiving this year was, well—different. Because of our unwelcome guest, the pandemic; lots of folks stayed home alone instead of having all the relatives over. The Crankee Yankee and I certainly missed going up to Maine to be with the grandgirls, but during this time it’s safety first. Hopefully we will see them at Christmas, but now it remains to be seen.

In any case, we still enjoyed Thansgiving, and remembered the good times when all of our relatives were together with us. But time and life goes on, and we find new ways to celebrate. Sooner or later there will be a vaccine to knock out covid for good, and things will go back to normal (we hope!). That said, it makes us both wary and thankful at the same time.

The Crankee Yankee and I made way too much food for us, so when we could stop burping and lying around digesting, we brought loads of food over to his brother and his wife (my best friend) for them to enjoy. (Why on earth do we always make so much food during the holidays?!) Of course, all of our cats enjoyed little plates of chopped turkey. After that they found warm places to sleep and burp the afternoon away.

Today we are probably going to have turkey and stuffing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But isn’t that always the way on Thanksgiving? I hope with all my heart that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Even during this time we still have a lot to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to Us All

Happy Thanksgiving to us all! Every year when we get together to celebrate Thanksgiving; not to mention eating until we groan—we remember Thanksgivings past. When we were kids and enjoyed the feast that our parents or grandparents made, we took it for granted that all Thanksgivings would be the same.

Now that we are the grownups and do all the cooking ourselves, we see Thankgiving with a new perspective. We remember those we have loved and lost, and feel grateful for those we still have with us. Now we are the ones who make the Thanksgiving feast.

We still may eat until the buttons on our pants fly off and burst into flame. We may laugh and talk about Thanksgivings past, and remember all those loved ones who have now gone on before us. Which makes me wonder; do they look down on us and laugh, remembering those Thanksgivings past too?

Considering that we are in a pandemic, we are being extra careful. Where we used to drive up to Maine to be with the grandgirls on Thanksgiving day, we are staying at home and will make our own Thanksgiving meal. Of course there will be phone calls and getting online to see each other; this is our new normal for now.

But just the same, we have a lot to be grateful for. I found the following poem that to me says it all for Thanksgiving:

When Giving Is All We Have

Alberto Ríos – 1952-

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.



What Is Good For Us

There are many days when I don’t feel that I am 69 years old. However, I don’t get out of bed unless I’ve done my back exercises. If I didn’t do them I would be creeping along like a crippled crab. The things I used to do, such as climbing trees, ice skating, skiing or running; that’s long gone. But when you have to give up some things you used to do, you just find new things to do.

Some of the new things I enjoy doing, such as walking down to the pond, is not only good exercise, but it makes me feel that all my gears are still working. There are lots of things that we can do as we age, such as meeting new people, joining a book club, playing games (Scrabble is my favorite), going for short walks and so on. These days I can start playing my ukulele again, or, to the cats’ dismay; playing my *didgeridoo.

These days when we are all pretty much home-bound because of the virus, it’s a good time to haul out our instruments and start playing. We can’t let the current virus make party-poopers out of us; we still can have fun anyway we can.

As Thanksgiving is upon us, many of us will not be with our loved ones because of the current situation. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun. The Crankee Yankee and I always go up to Maine for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we will miss that. But we can still call or get online to see and enjoy each other.

Find the good; it is always there. And as with anything else, this current situation too will pass. Hang in there everyone.

*The didgeridoo is a wind instrument made from hollow wood. The first didgeridoos, played by aboriginal peoples in northern Australia an estimated 40,000 years ago, were made from fallen eucalyptus branches that had been naturally hollowed out by termites. It is also known that the mayan people of Central America had a similar instrument made of yucca or agave and today referred to as “la trompeta maya” (the mayan trumpet).

No Need to be Perfect

When I was a teenager, I was constantly aware of all the well-dressed beautiful girls in my school. I envied their clothes, their make-up and the way they always seemed so confident. It never occured to me that they, like me, were scared and or worried about how they presented themselves.

During one of our school reunions, I happened to sit near a woman who was in most of my classes in school. She and I got talking, and I told her how much I had admired her in school and how she was always one of the “cool” kids. She started laughing and couldn’t stop; tears of laughter were running down her face. When she pulled herself together, she told me that every morning before school she would worry that she wasn’t dressed nicely enough, and that she felt awkward and not as smart as most of her friends.

Well, we started laughing until our sides hurt. How we worry that we are not pretty or well-dressed or smart or whatever. In the general scheme of things, it turns out that prettiness and being well-dressed doesn’t matter at all. What does matter is how we treat other people as well as ourselves.

There are precious few people who are perfect. Most of us are just as we are, imperfect and trying to do our best in life. We may never know that the people we view as perfect may also have their own worries and that they too feel imperfect.

All we can do is what we can do. There really is no need to aspire to be perfect; all we can do is to be who we are and what we can do in life. You may not believe this, but there may be dozens of people you know who envy you for who you are.

In The Good Old Days for the Holidays

Way back when we were all children, Thanksgiving was the harbinger of the crown jewel of all holidays; Christmas. Of course it was wonderful to have everyone together for turkey day, but as kids we knew that Thanksgiving was the first step to Christmas. Many times my favorite unkle would drive down from Maine to join us for Thanksgiving, and he would stay with us for a few wonderful days.

We always drove up to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then there was the food; every year Thanksgiving was the same table full of deliciousness; the beautifully roasted turkey filled with my grandmother’s mouth-watering stuffing, the carrots and celery in a lovely glass bowl, boiled and buttered onions, a huge bowl of gravy, baked potatoes, homemade Parker House rolls, boiled peas and after that, one of my grandmother’s fabulous desserts.

As I was an only child, I used to wonder what it would be like to have brothers and sisters. I also wondered what our Thanksgivings and Christmases would be like as well. Despite what most people think about “only children” who can do what ever they please, who got loads of toys for Christmas and whose birthday was a huge event; that’s just not so, trust me.

Those were good times, and to this day I think of them fondly. Sadly because of the corona virus, we won’t be going up to Maine this year to be with the grandgirls. The same may happen for Christmas as well, but we will make the best of it. Thankfully in this day and age we can still see each other via the internet.

While things change around us, what stays with us is the love and good memories of the holidays gone by. Even the corona virus can’t dampen our spirits or our memories. Things may be a bit different this year, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have good memories and the hope of even better ones again.



Going With the Flow

Since the corona virus is and continues to be a massive party pooper for us all, we need to find ways to not let it get to us. Of course we know to wear masks when out and about, washing our hands many times, and we are spending more time at home than usual. Usually we would all jump in our cars and take off to be with our relatives for Thanksgiving this year, but at this point it’s wiser to stay home. Sooner or later there will be a vaccine for the virus, but in the mean time, it’s smart to just stay put.

So how can we make the holidays seem cheery these days? Well, it isn’t easy, but it can be done. We can still have that turkey dinner and dessert; at our house this also means filling tiny little plates of chopped turkey for the kitties. (Don’t ask me how they know it’s Thanksgiving; they just know.) Then we search for a good movie to watch while enjoying our lunch.

A day or so before Thanksgiving I make three batches of apple crisp; one for my best friend and her husband, one for our amazing vet (who has kept our cats healthy and strong for years) and one for us. Normally we would be bringing apple crisp #4 to our loved ones in Maine, but we will have to wait until there is a cure for the corona virus.

As with everyone else in this country, we will go with the flow and carry on as usual. Or as I like to say in circumstances like this: “this too shall pass.” And sooner or later, this too WILL pass. In the meantime, be well, be happy, and be careful. While we will sorely miss seeing our relatives and friends at the table, staying safe will make sure that our relatives and friends will be there with us next year.


The “New” Holidays

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and Christmas isn’t far behind. Because of the pandemic, our usual holiday jollies may be a bit flat this year. That said, there’s no reason why we can’t make new holiday traditions.

In fact, it’s not a bad idea to do something different this year—just speaking for the Crankee Yankee and myself. Usually we go up to Maine to have Thanksgiving and Christmas with the grandgirls. This year we won’t be doing that, thanks to the pandemic. However, there’s no law saying that we can’t make new holiday traditions.

Since we have more time on our hands, we can get creative about the holidays. Just because we’ve done holidays the same way since the year one, we can make some changes. If we can’t travel to be with our loved ones, we can call them or get on line and zoom.

Just because we can’t be with our people, it doesn’t need to be the end of the world. In fact, distancing may even become a new holiday “thing.” Like everyone else, I am hoping for a vaccine that will stop the virus cold. But in the meantime, let’s use our creativity to make the holidays special this year. There will be a time when we all look back on these days and laugh and cry.

While my heart breaks for all the people who have died from the pandemic, I know that sooner than later, there will be a cure. For now, let’s be as hopeful as we can, as happy as we can, and as loving and kind as we can.