With Thanksgiving approaching, I was thinking deep, philosophical thoughts like, “Bring on the turkey,” and “Chocolate or pumpkin pie?” when an old Barney song popped into my head. It went something like this, “Please and thank you are the magic words.”
Please and thank you. In thinking over this year, I was struck with how much I say please and how little I say thank you. Before the whirl and excitement of Christmas sweep me away, I want to spend a few moments laying aside the pleases and counting up my thank yous.
Five and a half years ago we bought an old farm house on three acres just outside the city limits. For five and a half years we have lived in a remodeling project. As anyone who has been through this knows, it’s far easier to focus on the ugly and the unfinished than on the lovely and the finished. So today, instead of looking at the unpainted walls, I will say “thank you” for that big red barn out there, the one that some imaginative boys built a fort in one summer with a buddy. It’s the same barn that has been the site of what we call the “Schrock Olympics.” This involves a very lively beagle on a very long leash and a rowdy, pell-mell dash around the barn with said beagle tangling said leash around the participants’ legs, bringing the Olympic contenders crashing to the ground. There is cheering and riotous laughter along with the occasional heckle from the assembled spectators.
Instead of looking at the untrimmed windows, I will look outside and say “thank you” for our three acres. Having always had yards the size of potholders that could easily be mowed by two kids with a sharp pair of Fiskars or a small, but hungry billy goat, three acres was a veritable national park to us. Suddenly there were myriad opportunities to instill character in our tribe, e.g., mowing, gardening, and weeding. When the little characters got sick and tired of having their characters built, there was no end of possibilities for play and imagination. For instance, many happy hours have been spent out on that trampoline. Much to their mother’s dismay, their inventiveness has involved such exploits as dragging it under a tree or a low-hanging roof and dropping down from death-defying heights.
Seeing the picnic table and fire ring over there reminds me of the many picnics and campfires we have enjoyed with family and friends, sharing laughter and encouraging words as dusk turned into night and the bullfrogs tuned up in the neighbor’s pond. In this vast yard, there have been many rounds of a high-tech family game we call “Scary” whenever their uncle is here. Basically, their uncle hides while they, dressed in black, sneak all over the property like ninjas, trying to find him. There are tingling nerves as they tiptoe through the darkened barn, and when he charges from the shadows, the panicked stampede that ensues is reminiscent of nothing so much as the annual running of the bulls in Spain. Once, the boys were all the way over in St. Joe County before they realized he had stopped chasing them. You just can’t pay cash money for that kind of fun.
Instead of getting frustrated when the baby tee-pees the bathroom for the third time, I will say “thank you” for a healthy boy and remember how sick he was when he came to us and how sick he could still be.
Just for today, instead of raising my voice because his brothers haven’t put their clean clothes away, I will say “thank you” that we have boys at all, that they are healthy, and that they love the Lord.
I say “thank you” for my longsuffering husband who has been my best friend for 22 years now. “Thank you” for health, for a job I love, for friends and for family. Tomorrow I may say “please” again, but for today, my heart says, “Thank You.”