What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?
If intangible things count as answers to this question, my answer would be my relationship with Kathy. It’s been a tough year for us in a whole series of ways. Her job has been up for grabs because of budget cutbacks. My work schedule has meant that many days I work all day and most of the evening (not to mention weekends). Her work and some of mine are in places where we’re less than happy, but financial constraints make keeping the jobs a necessity. We weren’t able to make any of the vacation plans we had in mind for this winter-next spring a reality because of changing circumstances. The possibility of moving that we’d both had in mind for years needed to be put on hold for a while—and with that comes the fact that we’ll continue to have to draw from our retirement fund to get by each year that we stay here. And then there are all the family and health issues that continue to swirl around in this mix. Despite it all, Kathy has jumped in with huge amounts of energy to participate in so much of what I’ve wanted to do this year. We joined the CSA and Kathy cooked interesting meals around vegetables we’d never heard of before receiving them on a Sunday morning. We’ve doubled the size of our small garden by not only taking over most of the rest of our back yard but by also using half the front lawn (and Kathy plans to make the other half a garden next summer as well). We not only moved from one compost bin to three but I wanted to try vermicomposting. Kathy bought me a warm farm and two pounds of red wigglers are on their way to our door as I type so that we can give it a shot. We’ve put in a cold frame to have fresh greens all winter. We’re eating out less and less and cooking more nutritious meals from scratch using mostly organic vegetables and whole grains. In all this and more of the environmental changes we’ve made, I couldn’t be happier. And for a whole variety of reasons, so much of this all has fallen to Kathy. I’m doubly conscious of this at this time of year. For most of the years in my previous marriage, along with my added church work and piles of end-of-semester papers in December, I had to find time by myself to do all the holiday shopping, cooking, cleaning, and decorating myself. Now it’s shared and, when my schedule makes it impossible for me to get to something at a specific time, Kathy just keeps going with it. While I was at a meeting at the church last evening, she put the lights on the tree so that I came home to Christmas lights and to a tree all set for us to trim next time we’re both home and have some free time. How do I express my gratitude for this? Pretty poorly I’m afraid. While I try to make clear how much I appreciate all of this, I wouldn’t know words that could begin to show how very grateful I am!
If intangibles don’t count, then I suppose what I’m most grateful for this year are all the wonderful vegetables we’ve had (and continue to have) access to. Between those we’re growing ourselves and those from the CSA, it’s been amazing. I’m convinced that, along with the vitamins and supplements that my integrative doctor suggested five years ago, one of the reasons both my thyroid problem and my ongoing (and very annoying) fibromyalgia aren’t as bad as they had been is because of the better food. Having access to choices of healthy, organic, locally grown food is a luxury that I’m aware most people in the world don’t have. Each time I sit down at our table to eat, I remember with gratitude how lucky I am to have not only enough food but a variety of healthy foods to choose from.