Edited to add: I started this post the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Granted, that was not early enough. But I was also delusional enough to think I would publish it by Thanksgiving. Then on actual Thanksgiving, when I was trying to find new locations to hide our hoarder-level amounts of mail I insist on inspecting before Matty throws it all in recycling – “What if the kids want that Hammacher Schlemmer!?”, delegate cleaning chores to three people who act like they can’t see a need for any cleaning until I point it out (“Clean the pee off that toilet seat. Pick those dirty socks off the dog’s crate.”), cooking food for Thanksgiving and filming an audition tape while I baked dessert, I slowly realized what any sane person would: this would not be published on Thanksgiving. On Friday, when I luxuriated in doing absolutely nothing, I’m not sure what happened. We did show the kids Lord of the Rings for the first time. I was disappointed that 1) their minds weren’t blown and 2) that they thought pretty boy Legolas was hotter/cooler than hottie bad boy Aragorn. Disgraceful. Then on Saturday, my mother-in-law visited and Matty and I went to a show (Dinosaur Jr and Lemonheads – swoon), and here we are. So without further, further ado, here is this year’s gratitude list.
Okay one bit of ado: a little introduction. When I worked at John Hancock, we had this cool speaker come in for an event once. He had done all this research on happiness, and he shared this nugget of wisdom: there are three things you can do and if you do just one of these three things every day for a month* or longer, you will 100% be happier. These are the things: go for a walk in nature without using your phone, do 30 minutes of reading for pleasure, write down 3 things you’re grateful for before you go to bed. I do none of these things. I walk my dogs in nature every day, but usually listen to an audio book or podcast while I do it. I frequently read for a half hour or longer, but definitely not every day. And I only do the gratitude thing once a year, but maybe if I list more than 3 things, it will count. So, let’s do some binge-gratituding!
- Matty. You guys. Of course he drives me crazy sometimes, he chews food and he lives with me. Also, his farts have some kind of black magic power. He thinks any food in the fridge or especially the freezer literally never goes bad and believes it’s okay to wash underwear with our dish towels. BUT, as Cinderella (the band, not the princess) so rightly said, “don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Almost losing Matty was a jarring reminder that I cannot live without him. He’s funny, kind, hard-working, and just so steadfast. He sews on my buttons, fills up my no-longer-secret car candy compartment, and cuts my bangs even while insisting I should grow them out. He is an eternally patient, caring, hands-on dad who walks Hazy to the T station while it’s still dark out, reads “I am Fartacus” with George, spoons with Rosie and dances with Rocky when he thinks no one’s watching. He is my favorite person to hug. He is literally my dream come true, considering that a dream is a wish your heart makes (that’s from Cinderella, the princess).
- Hazel. Hazy is the Helen Hunt to my Jack Nicholson, she makes me want to be a better (wo)man. Earlier this week, Hazy asked me how I would describe her in one word, I said “wonderful.” When I asked her the same, she said, “magical.” What kind of 12-year old is that nice to their mom?
- George. I’m grateful for the unique joys of George. I’m convinced he’s a secret genius. Every day he does something that makes me smile or laugh. Here’s a joke he made up last year: “Knock, knock” “Who’s there?” “Banana.” “Banana who?” “Banana how about we don’t tell any jokes the rest of this walk.” See? Secret genius.
- Rosie. Rosie brings me so much joy. She’s a special girl who pees in a handstand position, howls with fire truck sirens, and happy-cries like a baby seal whenever we walk in the door. She’s a dog, by the way. I’m realizing this would read really weirdly if she was a human child.
- Rocky. It’s hard to believe we’ve only had Rocky since February. I don’t think I’ve ever been loved by another living thing as much as I have by Rocky. He had a hard time for the first few years of his life, and it gives me immeasurable pleasure to give him the good life he deserves now.
- My village. Holy hell, it takes a village, guys. It takes a village to raise a child, nurse a husband back to health, and generally function. And my village is the AWESOMEST. It includes my parents, my mother-in-law, my aunts and cousins who look after my Nana in Toronto, my beloved JP friends including the immaculate Chans, my college friends, my running friends. These exquisite humans have lent me their time, ears, mini bundt pans, puzzles, aviator glasses, rides, wisdom, books, money, a cape, and given me more love than I could repay in a thousand lifetimes.
7. Cheese. Always cheese.
8. Nachos. Duh.
Have I done at least a month’s worth of gratitude 3-a-days? No? Okay, here goes:
9. Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm. Rose? Dahlia? I can’t tell the difference, but I love all the dark pink/red ones. If you’ve seen me put on lipstick, you know I can’t (and that I’ll drunkenly call my friend Jean and yell at her that I’m wearing lipstick, bitch), so this is my best approximation of lipstick, no drunk-dialing required.
10. Good books. Here are my favorites I’ve read this year: Crying in H-Mart, Make Your Home Among Strangers, and Homegoing.
11. Girl Scout Thin Mint Almonds. What? Yes.
12. Ted Lasso. Specifically Roy Kent on Ted Lasso.
13. The nurses at Mon Sheong facilities in Toronto responsible for my Nana’s care.
15. My fruit-infuser water bottle.
16. Jamaica Plain and the gorgeous places it offers to run. The Arboretum, Jamaica Pond, Franklin Park. JP makes it really hard for me to maintain my strict “I’m not outdoorsy” position; it’s like trying to tell yourself you’re not into men while a shirtless Chris Hemsworth gives you a massage while gently kissing the back of your neck.
17. Saturday morning runs with my run group – The closest thing I have to church or therapy.
18. Duolingo – Such a fun way to learn Mandarin. It’s actually working. I understood a few of the Mandarin words in Shang Chi! Plus, George is learning Italian and it’s super cute.
19. My missionary Mandarin teachers, Sister Hall and Sister Butler. They give me free lessons, are eternally patient and positive and call me “perfect” when I’m anything but.
20. My secret car stash of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties that Matty keeps stealing and then restocking.
21. Boomerangs. Or as my friend Rosa calls it, “Booms.” The best thrift store in the Boston area and a frequent supplier of fashion for my @thriftwrapped Instagram account. Should out to Worthy Girl, the best thrift store in the greater greater Boston area (Beverly).
23. The JP Free Puzzles exchange on Facebook
24. Rom coms on Audible – my now not-so-secret shame. I listen while I walk the dogs and do the dishes.
25. Splat hair dye – Sorry, Amy Poehler from Mean Girls, but I’m the cool mom now.
26. My Vitamix blender – I’m pretty sure I could put a pile of rocks in there and it would still power through.
27. Shang Chi, the first Asian Marvel hero – loved the movie and love having a Chinese Marvel superhero for kids to look up to. Simo Liu was also great on SNL.
28. SNL – Speaking of…still makes me laugh.
29. Vulture.com – particularly Ali Barthwell’s column on the Bachelorette.
30. Nailed It – I just discovered this show after a producer reached out to me to audition. You know, how everyone discovers new shows. (More on this in a later post.) Anyway, I love it. If you haven’t seen Season 6, Episode 1 with Laqueda, you have not lived. Our entire family is made up of Laqueda stans now.
31. My dad’s tofu recipe – Nobody makes it quite like my dad, but Hazy and I can both do a good imitation.
32. The soccer and hockey parents standing next to me in the cold – It’s so much more tolerable when you’re there to commiserate with me, fellow sochocker parents.
33. My eating pants. I adore you.
34. Third Cliff – the bakery down the street. I love kimchi, cheddar, and croissants, but did not realize they would be so good combined into one food. Kudos to you.
35. Happy Endings (the show, not the massage thing, pervs) – I just discovered this show from 2011 and it’s hilarious. Adam Pally is such an under-appreciated gem.
36. Massages – I don’t think I’ve ever felt as much love for a complete stranger since the anesthesiologist who administered my epidural during childbirth as I do for massage therapists.
37. Campfire jam sessions – a little tipsy, surrounded by friends, singing “Just Like Heaven?” Sign me up.
38. Atoms sneakers – I wear mine every single day and they are perfect. They come in 1/4 sizes, you can slip them on even though they have laces, and they’re comfy AF. I just bought a second pair in neon yellow-green (tennis ball color) and I love them. I wear my black ones daily and my neon ones when I’m feeling fresh.
39. My hat collection – when a terrible haircut forced me to explore Blair Waldorf headbands until I ran out of them, I learned to appreciate all the hats I’ve accumulated over the years.
40. My old school clock radio – Set to Magic 106.7, natch
41. Covid Vaccines for kids! – Plus, boosters. Thank you, science! Two weeks from Tuesday, our whole family will be fully vaccinated and I will breathe a huge sigh of relief through my KN95 mask.
42. Box wine.
43. Uniball Vision pens – I swear my handwriting is nicer with these.
44. The library.
45. Seat warmers.
46. Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy – If you’re ever sad, please watch this movie immediately.
47. Chinese Jasmine Tea – one of the only four beverages I drink. It’s this, water, iced (black) tea, and wine. I’ll occasionally have a beer, champagne or a smoothie.
48. Diane’s bootcamp class – Sometimes we jokingly call it a cult and it makes sense: charismatic leader, shared commitment to something, yada yada. Never in my life have I been someone who “likes working out” or “works out for fun,” but I guess I am now? This workout class helps me make up for a vicious nacho addiction and gives me some social time with some of my favorite people two mornings a week.
49. My kids’ teachers and coaches – a thousand tips of the hat to you, you absolute saints
50. The Rain Sounds playlist on Spotify – This is 8 1/2 hours of glorious white noise for anyone who’s ever had to share a working space with a loud chewer, frequent farter and phone yeller. Not that I know anyone like that.
My sincere gratitude to everyone who reads my blog, with some extra love for those who follow and comment. Happy three days after Thanksgiving!
*My memory is terrible. This event probably happened a year and a half ago (although I’m not sure, terrible memory, remember?) so I can’t remember any details – his name, the book he had written or was associated with (I vaguely remember he might not have been the author), how many days you have to do to establish the habit, how long the walk had to be, etc.