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The older I get, the more I’m thankful


©2007, Stephenie B. Freeman
There was one thing that I wanted from my grandmother’s house after she passed away: a three-foot tall, white, wooden, kitchen stool. 
It had stood in my grandmother’s kitchen for years, having been painted and repainted in several coats of white, each shade slightly different than the one before.  My grandmother used it for everything from standing on it to reach the highest shelf or as a perch for her grandchildren to sit on to be near her while she cooked.  My husband has some trouble understanding my devotion to such a simple, worn out, old thing.   Even though it isn’t fancy or unique, my grandmother’s stool is very valuable.  It is directly attached to my memories. 
Every Thanksgiving, I would drag the white stool to next to the counter which held a crock pot filled with my grandmother’s famous spiced tea.  On her stool is where I would sit, waiting to refill someone’s cup as I watched my grandmother, my mother, and my aunts put the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter meal.  Occasionally I would stand to stir the spiced tea with a tea-stained ladle, carefully navigating the tea bags and the spice ball filled with cloves. 
Spiced tea was always a holiday family favorite of ours.  Along with the relish tray, corn casserole, and ambrosia that would traditionally decorate the table, my grandmother’s colorful Fiesta coffee mugs were always lined up next to the crock pot, waiting to be filled with the sweet mixture of pineapple and orange juice, Red Hots, and Lipton tea bags.  There was no better smell than my grandmother’s house on the holidays.  
Gratitude is a funny thing.  Being grateful is nothing more than simply recognizing how appreciative you are for something or someone in your life.  As I child I was taught to be thankful—thankful for gifts received and food to eat.  Manners being a top parental priority in our house, I used “please” and “thank you” like a pro, but I don’t think that I was ever truly appreciative for the many blessings until recently.
Becoming a mother forces you to be thankful.  Suddenly your children’s every step, every achievement, and every milestone is one to be grateful for.  I am thankful for their health, our home, our happiness, our togetherness.  Having happy, healthy children makes you appreciate everything you have.  But I will admit, I wasn’t always so aware of my many blessings.
Before children, I had plenty to be thankful for: sleeping late on weekends, only my own laundry to do, no one begging or whining for anything.  Life was beautiful and easy and, yes, internally I was very grateful for it.  But, I was also too blinded by things that I still wanted to achieve to reflect on everything that I had already been given.  Now that I am a mother, I realize that what I should have been the most grateful for all along was my own childhood.  
As a child I never worried or wanted for anything.  On major holidays, my only job was sitting on my stool.  Now as I wallow in creating special holiday memories for my own family, I finally appreciate all of the time, money, and effort that my family put into making my childhood holidays so special.  I now understand that making a Thanksgiving dinner for thirty people is no easy feat, especially when you are making sure that everyone’s favorites are being served, even if that means that there are three different kinds of potatoes on the table.  My grandmother made sure that traditions and memories were created for each one of us, even if it was only in a small mug of spiced tea.   
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my grandmother’s kitchen stool which now sits in my kitchen as a reminder—a reminder of how grateful I am to have had people in my life like my grandmother, a women whose sole purpose in life was to meet everyone else’s needs.
And for that, I am truly grateful.         

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