I started (again) to try to record 1,000 gifts. I think my last attempt made it to about 70. That’s a whopping 7% of the way, friends. But this is what new years are for, right? Trying again with new hopes that this time you might make it. Or at least make it further than before. This time I’m using the Joy Dare collection, prompts that make you think a bit, focus your thankfulness. Check it out.
I realized ‘round about Saturday that my chances of thinking of something to fit the prompt increase if I read it in the morning and not wait until I’m crawling, defeated, into the bed at well past my bedtime. So I checked this morning’s suggestion, “3 graces from people you love,” and casually mentioned it to Jay. Seeing as how I had no plans to leave the house on this unexpected snow cold day home from school, I knew I had to watch for three graces among the three other people that live here.
I just didn’t expect to already have two by the end of breakfast.
20. Jay agreed to take Bubba to school. While we were enjoying together our healthier version of breakfast (also inspired by the New Year), Jay offered to drive Bubba to school. Not just agreed…offered. Anyone living anywhere in the United States today knows that it was hellacold outside. Chica’s kiddie thermometer (thanks Betty, what a timely gift!) said 5 degrees when we checked it this morning. In addition to the scarf on the weather girl and the snowflake which I’m assuming means it’s cold enough to snow, there was now an exclamation point next to the snowflake too. I guess that’s the No-Joke-Stay-Inside symbol. So as we made jokes about hypothermia and losing limbs, he offered to be the one to go out, and I was thankful.
21. Chica invited Bubba to share her chair at the breakfast table. This morning, as most mornings, breakfast was a battle. By (what I thought was) the end of it, Bubba was a sobbing mess, crumpled over on the kitchen floor. “Do you care if I just let him cry?” I remember asking Jay. He didn’t, so I vowed I would enjoy the breakfast I had fixed for myself then try to help him pick up the pieces and get our day back on track.
Next thing I know, tenderhearted, sweet Chica had invited him to perch beside her in her chair and keep eating. As she scooted his bowl over to his new seat, I watched in amazement as he kept eating the same soggy “Fwok Fwakes” he had refused a few minutes ago. “Grace number two, and breakfast isn’t even over,” I remember remarking to Jay. That was fast.
22. The shredded cheese smeared on the dining room floor. So grace #3 from people I love came after dinner, and I guess it’s technically for someone I love. In one of my many moments of distraction today while trying to complete a writing project, I decided I would do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while: teach Chica how to unload the dishwasher. So I did, and it was mostly painful and slow, but there was one bright exclamation of, “This is fun!” (She got over that real fast, don’t worry.) This got me thinking that it’s about time she have a few regular jobs around the house. So I printed her off a checklist and tried to explain with every positive spin I had why her four new “jobs” this week were a really cool thing. She totally bought it. I love five.
So tonight she set out to accomplish job number three: vacuum the dining room floor after dinner. Except Bubba had conned Daddy into giving him a pile of shredded cheese for dinner and then proceeded to use it like confetti. (I don’t love two, so much.) I know that the vacuum and shredded cheese aren’t a great combination, but I forgot to tell her that before it was too late. So I handed her the rag and encouraged her to try wiping it up…a skill that she has also not quite mastered yet.
Shortly she was “done” and ready to go join Daddy and Bubba for the nightly see-what’s-cool-on-Daddy’s-iPad-in-Bubba’s-bed party, and I had to survey her work so she could be dismissed.
There was still cheese.
But thankfully (I guess maybe this is what I’m really thankful for!) some small piece of a conversation with a friend resurfaced. I can’t even remember for sure which friend, but I know she reminded me of the importance of not going back behind your kids when they start to help. Let it be good enough. So I extended grace and I let her go, squeezing her and reminding her how proud I was of her hard work.
And the cheese smears are still there.
Tomorrow, and likely the next day and the next, when I walk past them I’ll try to keep reminding myself to extend grace. And I’ll keep reminding myself, too, that I only have strength to do this because I’ve been given grace upon grace myself.
Grace in the parenting.
Grace in the working.
Grace in the eating.
Grace in the counting of the gifts, even.
Grace upon grace, to you, friends.