Locally Grown Gratitude


It’s the time of year for gratitude. I’m trying to take it seriously this year. There’s so much overwhelming stress happening in the world right now, that my new thing is to take a few minutes and remember what’s good. I’m trying to inject a jolt of happy into the dull pessimism that has spread out a blanket and is rudely lounging in my brain.

Today I’m making a list of all the things that I love about living in JCrewville. Instead of sneering at all the happy, productive, latte-toting residents, I’ve decided to skip along next to them. Who knows? Maybe, I’ll even whistle.

    What I Love About Living in JCrewville:

    My kids walk to school. I love watching Elizabeth meet her best friend, Hallie, in our front yard and begin the quaint morning ritual that seems all but extinct as children in the sprawling mega-suburbs get bussed every day.

    They walk together arm-in-arm huddled in fourth-grade secrecy, giggling, with their backpacks bouncing in tandem. Some mornings I stand at the end of the driveway in my flannel PJ’s and watch them, taking in gulps of fresh air with my morning coffee. Hmmm, I think — it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

    I have a really pretty house. It’s an old gracious house we could never afford anywhere else but here, where cheap real estate prices seduce big city visitors. It’s tall and has amazing moldings and three sets of French doors on the first floor alone. The windows all have wavy, old glass and the stairs creak like you would expect them to. It warms me that my girls get to call such a pretty place the house they grew up in.

    I have great, kooky neighbors. Our old houses sit very close to each other. So close in fact, that before I got blinds in my back den, I could literally see what my neighbors were eating for dinner. This closeness encourages spontaneous moments of togetherness that make me both laugh and sigh.

    Through open windows next door, Karen catches a glimpse of me and cries out “Stella!!” in her best Marlon Brando. My neighbor, Ben, doles out nightly sarcasm as he strolls up and down the block with his after-dinner coffee. Crazy Deb from across the street is out every day, putzing endlessly over her house in overalls and a black t-shirt. She yells at my kids for being careless near the street, but I know she secretly treasures them as much as the antiques that fill her house.

    I am surrounded by old trees. Strong and silent they keep us cozy, holding fresh snow, singing birds, breathtaking color and cool shade. My kids hide behind them, climb them, reach for their branches and tie jump ropes to their trunks. Is it any wonder that “The Giving Tree” is my favorite book?

    Starbucks is around the corner. I know, I know…but still. I love Starbucks: the smell, the ritual, the cool music, the hip baristas (except, of course, for the “White Barista” ). Five years ago, we had a huge snowstorm. Socked in our houses for days, we bundled the kids in puffy snowsuits. Dave pulled Elizabeth in a sled and I stuffed Caroline in the Baby Bjorn and we slogged through the deep snow to the only place open in town. Starbucks! Safe, warm and full of caffeine and sugar –what’s not to love about that?

    I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. Okay, this doesn’t really make me happy, per se. In fact, it could actually top my JCrewville “Black List”. Yet at the same time, the longer I’ve lived here, the harder it is to leave. I’ve moved every three years of my life until I landed here. Does this make JCrewville home for me? Possibly – or at least for now.

3 thoughts on “Locally Grown Gratitude

  1. Whenever I read your stuff, I have this perfect precept in my mind of Wonderful America. A veritable form of municipal perfection. I know everyone has problems, but you paint such a lovely and warm mosaic of a very decent life. It’s as if Rockwell conspired with Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley and Sherwood Schwartz to come up with a perfect town that ought to be called Pleasantville…or at the very least, nicknamed Halcyon City.

    To be content where you are with whom you’ve become is a glorious thing. Be happy that you’re happy my dear and pray for it’s longevity. I hope you’re able to look around you and smile for a very, very long time.

    You are blessed.. while I live in Houston.


    PS….I’d be jealous but I look horrible in green!!

    Yeah, there are itty, bitty pockets of perfect here…and I’m working, WORKING (!) to enjoy them.

    At least the sun shines in Houston…though the humidity would devastate my hair/self-esteem.
    Enjoy your warm winter and thanks for visiting.

  2. But is it locally grown, ORGANIC gratitude? Because I’m not sure it counts otherwise.

    I’m sorry, you wrote a lovely post and I can’t keep my smart-ass side in check.

    Try to build on these every day. Every day add one more thing to your list. Until you can’t think of anything else. Then start over.

    If nothing else, it will pass the time.

    Oh, but of course it’s organically grown. Here in Jcrewville, we frown upon anything artificial (she says, smart-ass to smart-ass).

    Thanks for the advice on building on the good list. It might keep me from compiling other lists that could get me in trouble. 🙂

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