Give thanks – with all your teeth

Categorized as  Thanksgiving, 11/24/08 Goshen News column

In case you’ve forgotten the realities of living in a fallen world, you need look no further than your local newspaper or your TV. In recent months, it’s been one long parade of depressing headlines – layoffs, high food prices, a plummeting Dow, and a shaky economy. Which is why this is a perfect time for Thanksgiving.

News junkie that I am, there are days when I’ve had it up to here with bad news and political spin. After all, lying with a perfectly made-up face and a spectacular tie is still lying. So I do what far more citizens should do. I revolt and turn the whole caboodle off. This week, instead of focusing on what’s gone haywire in the world, I’m going to look at what’s right in my world.

Heading the list of things I’m thankful for is our country. While parts of it are surely broken and in need of repair, it still offers the greatest freedom and the most opportunities for its citizens. Here, we the people get to have a say in how it’s run. If we don’t like the rabble we’ve sent to Washington, or we feel that we’ve hammered a square peg into an Oval Office, we only need to wait for the next election cycle to fire the lot of them. If this is you, then get your little voting hand warmed up. In two years, you’ll get another crack at it.

This next item will mean nothing to you, but it means a lot to me. It’s my laundry room. See, for years I did laundry in the dungeon, our ugly, unfinished basement down in the bowels of the earth. With a second-floor office, switching loads during work hours meant a tiring trek of approximately 837 stairs, thanks to Mr. Schrock’s refusal to install an elevator.

Then came Baby Schrock and a roaring postpartum depression. With Mama working full time, crying into her keyboard and caring for baby, Papa sprang into action. With the help of family members and a friend, he transformed the back room into a laundry room. The finishing touch was a beautiful, large-capacity, front-load washer and dryer set capable of washing 16 pairs of jeans or 2 medium-sized boys all at once.

Suddenly, it was the nicest room in our old farmhouse. I briefly considered moving my office down there, but gave up the notion when I realized I would have to spray for stains, load the washer, and clean the lint screen from my office chair.

Another blessing I’m counting this season is my teeth. Remember my fit of insecurity in the toothpaste aisle the other week? The one product I didn’t mention was the denture adhesive. Seeing it on the shelf as I scurried by, lips clamped shut to hide any orthodontic imperfections, was the lone bright spot in that angst-ridden ordeal.

Am I ever thankful that I don’t have to shop for glue. When I grin at you, regardless of whether it’s a full-wattage smile or just a dull gleam, every tooth in that display is my own. It won’t be me just yet, startling waitresses by reaching into my purse to pull out a full set of chompers, which is what happened to a fellow waitress years ago. I realize the day may come when my teeth will smile at me from a cup on the nightstand, but for now they still smile from inside my head.

I also give thanks for the numbers 12, 4, and 60. Twelve is the number of feet that alternately thunder, prance, and tiptoe in and out the back door and up and down the wooden stairs. It’s the number of hands that work together to keep our household running and to cheer each other’s accomplishments. Okay, so sometimes a couple pairs are being used to punch a sibling or steal cookies. Like I said, it’s a fallen world.

There are 12 ears, some of which go deaf as a door nail at the sound of my voice. I can trumpet instructions through a bullhorn pressed tightly to the right ear and they hear absolutely nothing. I paid cash money once to have a pediatrician tell me that two of those ears were just “mommy deaf.” It was only one fit I pitched upon receiving that diagnosis, but it was a doozy.

I love four because that’s how many sets of biscuits I get to buy blue jeans for. This makes me happy. Believe it or not, it’s also the number of double crowns (or two whirligigs, as we like to say) that our poor hair specialists have to work around.

Sixty is the number of toes (piggies, in Schrock parlance) that come looking for socks on a daily basis. The level of panic involved in the search rises and falls based on the proximity of the school bus. One is the number of completely perplexed mothers who has zero clues as to who or what is eating socks around here. And 6,343 is the number of stray socks with no mates.

Now, while I fire up my washer and launder 16 pairs of jeans and 2 medium-sized boys, you get started on your own list of blessings. It’s easy. You just open your mouth and start counting. With all your teeth.

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