Sunday, December 7, 2014

10,000 Reasons...or maybe just a few to start.

Although I don't pretend that I was actually deprived of anything this year (come on, folks, SA has to be the most Westernized country in Africa), I have been enjoying numerous things here in the US, most of which I didn't stop and really appreciate before.

List #1: Insignificant, material items.

I realize in the grand scheme of things, these matter pretty much nothing. People matter more. Having a place to stay and food to eat and clean water to drink matters more. But these little bits of icing on the cake? They just make my heart happy!

Wal-Mart - you can enter one store and buy everything, if you so desire and have an unlimited budget (I do not.)

Ranch dressing! The delicious kind. I have been drowning everything in it. Maybe even things that don't belong with it.

Chocolate chips that don't taste like plastic. I'm sitting here eating these right now.

Salvage stores. Actually, this one makes my head hurt a little bit, just thinking of how I could slash my grocery bill in half (at least) if they existed in Africa. I went so far as to daydream about starting one, just so I could shop at it....

A dryer. As my fellow intern put it, "OHMYGOODNESS I PUT A LOAD IN AND IT WAS DRY IN AN HOUR!" If I want to wash my sheets in the afternoon, I can put them, completely dry, on my bed that night.

Gas prices at $2.51 a gallon - realizing that I'll have to pay at LEAST double that next year. This is another thing, like the salvage stores, that makes my head hurt a little bit.

A car. I LOVE MY CAR! (I've only had to fix it once since I came home. Blech.)

Having all my stuff here. I don't have to think, "Sure, I've got a thingamajig - oh wait, I left that in a completely different hemisphere...."

Glorious, wonderful, craft stores. I may have wept when I walked into JoAnn's. (Well, actually, no, I didn't. But it was still a blissful experience.)

Internet shopping. Guess what? I CAN BUY EXACTLY WHAT I WANT! And have it delivered to my house! In days!

A reliable post office. One that isn't allowed to go on strike. Who thinks that is ok, anyway?

Brand choices. This is actually a little bewildering. Who needs 73 kinds of cookies? Someone headed straight for diabetes?

Clothing choices. I assume full responsibility for my lack of clothing choices in South Africa. Somehow, I thought it was more important to take yarn than to pack more than 15% of my wardrobe. Nonetheless, I open my closet every day and it feels like I'm shopping, and (most of) the clothes fit me straight off the rack.

Central heating. That humming noise the furnace makes? Music to my ears. I CAN WALK INSIDE AND GET WARM! Really warm, and not just "let's wrap ourselves in 50 blankets and call this slight increase in temperature 'warm.' "

Everything "looking like home." This was one of the top insignificant things on my list. I missed farms, and woods. Ok, so I didn't miss the spirit-shattering gray five months that trademark the Ohio winter, but you know what I mean...

Thrift stores. You are a thing of beauty. If I had you in Africa, I'd be broke. "Oh, I need to buy this thingamajig and that doohickey and one or two or twelve whatchamacallits for my house!" Alas, my lifestyle as of late has required me to ask many questions whenever I walk into the heaven that is a thrift store (or a salvage shop):

- "Will it make me money?" (Is it yarn? A pretty plate to load with Christmas cookies and resell? Some random craft supply I've been looking for?)

- "Can I use it up?" (Is it a personal hygiene item? A stack of thank you notes? If in a salvage store, is it a delicious food item?)

- "Would this make a good (cheap) Christmas present?"

- "Can I take it with me? Have I already been looking for it?" (I got a great backpack for the trip back for $5 the other day, and a skirt in the style and color I've been looking for all year - for $1.25.)

- "Is there any valid point to storing it if I can't take it with me?" (99% of the time, the answer to this question is "NO." The other 1% of the time, it's probably something that goes in my hope chest.)

This is rather a freeing perspective with which to walk into a thrift store. Still get to enjoy the shopping, but don't go home with the $15 in random goods that I bought for "someday..." Although I still get desperate urges to buy every other kitchen utensil that I see.

Having a piano. OH MY WORD, I didn't realize how incredible it was to sit down and play! If at all possible, I'm going to get my hands on a smallish keyboard next year.

Running a hat business.

So those are just a few things I'm grateful for since I've been home. Every time I hit a new thing on that list for the first time since I've been home (like the first time going to the salvage stores) I get almost giddy.

List #2 - People Blessings, and Other Things Besides Salad Dressing

Getting to see my grandma again.

Tea with my good friend, Jamie.

All my friends at church.

Singing in the church cantata.

Spending time with family.

Standing next to my mom when she sings alto in church.

Homeschool group friends. (I have yet to see some of you!)

Thanksgiving with family.

Christmas with family.

Christmas in my home state and culture.

Visiting my best friend ever and her husband and little sister.

Having my little sister over for a sleepover and forcing her to help me make 29 dozen cookies.

Visiting my nieces and their family. Watching as they blossom with love.

So, those are the short lists. I started the "One Thousand Gifts" challenge several years ago, where you cultivate a habit of thankfulness, and I think I'm up to #1025. I was inspired to pull out the notebook again this year (at a point where I was confronted on being particularly ungrateful...I can't say it completely changed my attitude, but it helped!) and it's so much fun to capture all those moments. If you haven't tried it, you should. =)

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