– making easy-to-eat nachos for your husband while he’s into his new computer game & can’t tear himself away from the computer.
– cleaning the house with your wife on your day off because she is freaking out that things aren’t done & her girlfriends are coming over that night.
– notes hidden around the house that say why your husband is great.
– bringing lunch to your wife’s school on your day off to sneak an extra 45 minutes together because she’s your favorite person.
– always, always noticing your wife’s new haircut, even when it looks the same.
My Grandma Helen was one of the best people I’ve ever met – probably the best. She espoused “Christian” values in the very best way possible – through her actions. Each morning, she spent an hour or two praying for everyone from her family to the president. She taught until her late 60s, when the district said she had to retire. Then she ran the homeschool division of her school district until she had to retire from there too. After that, she tutored children in her hometown. She adopted three children in her life – two as infants (including my father) & one after her children were grown & her husband had passed – a teenage girl. She always had food for anyone who stopped by, and she drove “elderly” members of her church to the store & to worship until she gave up her driver’s license around age 90.
Our lives are very different. With 75 years separating our years of birth, I know aspects of my life would be shocking to her (but I married him, Grandma, so the living together doesn’t count – right??), as hers would be to me. However, since I was a small child, she impressed upon me that we are bigger than ourselves. We’re a part of a community – be that at our home, school, church, city or even larger level.
I have always had her in my mind when volunteering – sometimes expressly volunteering at an activity that I know she’d have loved to do herself, sometimes as an afterthought, an “I wish I could tell her about this” moment. This morning, as part of Love Modesto, I took carnations & conversation to people in a couple of retirement homes, something Grandma did at Bethany Home for as long as I was alive, certainly, until she went there herself. When talking with a woman who missed her grandchildren who were away at college, I started crying, and we talked about my grandma for quite a while. As we left, the woman took my hand and told me that my grandma would be proud of me and the adult I became, and I’m just holding onto that today.
I’m so grateful for my life, my home, my husband & family, but especially that I had such a strong inspiration early on. It’s a sentimental day, and I do miss my grandma.
I play this game with my husband very, very occasionally. One of the reasons why we don’t play it more often is because he feels sorry for me. Invariably, this is how our games go:
- We begin evenly – blocking each other’s plays.
- I think of an absolutely brilliant plan that will trap him into assisting my win.
- He notices what I’m doing and counters it.
- I don’t notice his counter, get disproportionately excited about how I’m going to win.
- I lose.
I am a good strategist, adept at many games. However, something about this game just baffles me. Luckily, my husband will only play this with me infrequently, which I really appreciate. Last night, while waiting for the peanut butter cookies to come out of the oven, I talked him into a game. I was so excited that I was shaking the game as I held it. I almost had the win. Almost apologetically, he beat me yet again. Maybe next time (but probably not)!
For the first time, I set a post to “schedule,” i.e. post later than I was writing it. I thought I’d be doing something fun and memorable for Valentine’s Day but would want a little post of love to go up. It turns out that I was half right.
On Sunday afternoon, I had increasingly sharp pain in my abdomen, overwhelming nausea & vomiting, and made my husband take me to the emergency room. Good call, since I had an ovarian cyst that had grown to enormous proportions, swelling to reach from my right ovary up to my rib cage, twisting on itself & in danger of rupturing. We spent Sunday scared in the hospital, early, early Monday morning having surgery & the next 24 hours in the hospital recuperating.
I’m fine, truly – and grateful that we caught it when we did.
The real star of the story though, is my husband. Looking forward to his three days off (Sunday, Monday was a holiday & Tuesday was his regularly scheduled day off), he instead spent virtually every waking moment (and some sleeping ones as we napped together, scared and exhausted) with me. He held my hand when the pain was so bad that I could barely speak, squeezed my fingers when, after vomiting for so long, my veins were almost impossible to find & took 6 different pokes / prods to get, read a book out loud to me when I could barely keep my eyes open, helped me shower when I couldn’t do it alone, and has been the strongest, most solid person in this mess.
He brought me a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day (he always does), but the best gift that I received was the unwavering support through good times and bad & the absolute assurance that I’m not in any of this alone. It might’ve taken an oversized cyst, scary emergency surgery, an incision the size of a c-section & two days in the hospital, but I have truly never felt more cherished & loved. Take THAT Valentine’s Day!
If you have a teacher in your life, please read this post.
If you have a teacher in your life who does not do a good job for you or your child, I am so sorry. Please know that there are those of us out there just waiting to get you / your child in our classrooms & make a connection with you.
If you have a teacher in your life who goes above & beyond / makes you or your child want to go to school / does the extra things that make school memorable, say thanks. A sincere note of appreciation makes all the extra hours worth it. It validates coming in on a sick day to show The Polar Express to third graders after school & staying up late to make a calendar for off track months so you can find free / affordable activities to do in our area & laminating writing late at night because we’re so proud of what the kids have done.
Gift cards are thoughtful. Teacher-themed gifts are (please) unnecessary. Truly though, that note that says, “Listen, I see the amount of time you put in. It goes above and beyond what you need to do, and we appreciate you.” That note is worth more than any gift you could give.
“Thank you” is always in good taste.
That said, I try to write a letter each year to a former teacher who made a difference in my life – Miss Anna, my second grade teacher who hand-lettered everything & let me read what I wanted, Mr. McKinney, my fifth grade teacher who always pushed me to research & write & read more and whose patience in taking our class to the county library each week will never be forgotten, Mrs. Klopf, my seventh grade English teacher who wrote encouraging notes on my poetry & let me call her by her first name (which was the same as mine), Mr. Haydock, my high school speech coach who gave so generously of himself at such a young age (less than 10 years older than me), and Mr. Madison, my twelfth grade English teacher who turned the classroom into his stage & held us captive.
Those notes are treasured more than a mug or gift card could ever be.
Thank you in advance!
One of the best traditions that my family has regarding Thanksgiving is making everyone welcome. There has always been enough room for one (or twenty) more & I truly appreciate the generosity / open-door policy. As the emails have been flying around regarding dinner menus (potluck, so my mom & aunt do the basics and everyone else brings a dish or two), I’ve seen the list grow & expand until the current total of dinner guests is, I believe, 28. I love that.
The list is currently comprised of my mother, her three daughters, their three husbands, the three kids + a friend of my niece’s, my best friend & her boyfriend, my aunt, her son and his fiancée (my other cousin and his wife are in Australia for two months – color me envious), my aunt’s boyfriend (ooh la la), his daughter, her husband, their three kids, my uncle (aunt’s ex-husband), a couple who are friends with my cousins + their child, a couple who are longtime friends & possibly someone else I’m missing.
I guess I’m just thankful that our homes & tables are open to all & that this holiday is approached with the idea of sharing it with everyone. Also, be jealous of the quantity of food that will be served – 5 types of appetizers, 2 turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, jello salad, wine, hot cider, three types of vegetables, two types of salad, buns, stuffed mushrooms, and, of course, apple & berry & pumpkin pies. What a feast!
However, in the middle of this crazy week (literally teaching + a committment every afternoon AND every evening), I just stood in the middle of my kitchen crying because I was so lucky. Weeks like this make me wonder why I chose to educate & I was barely keeping my head above water. When I finally got home, I saw a completely pristine kitchen & opened the refrigerator to find homemade salsa just waiting for me. It’s a small thing, I know, but chips & salsa are my favorite snack, and it was one of a million tiny, perfect reasons that I married this guy.
Certainly neither of us are perfect, but after almost a year of marriage & almost eight years of being together, his thoughtfulness & generosity absolutely still floor me, and I hope I never forget how lucky I am to have him.