Published On: Fri, Nov 22nd, 2013

Note to Self…This Thanksgiving

By Lisa Stansell

My furnace broke down a few weekend’s ago – for the second time in a month. Remember the 18 degree nights we had? Of course it was those nights. A few weeks ago the littlest was in a car wreck that totaled the Land Cruiser. It’s a pretty big vehicle, right? Of course an even bigger vehicle was involved. Earlier this year the puppy had a bout with Lyme’s Disease causing many trips to the vet and lots of lovely blue pill bottles for her. Oh, and the truck? Yeah, somehow it didn’t escape. I woke up one morning to find the front tires facing each other. How does that happen? In spite of all this I have so much to be thankful for this year. Going to sleep one night during the furnace vacation it occurred to me that I am an incredibly lucky woman.

I go to sleep in a lovely room in a very sturdy house in a wonderful town. I am in no danger at all of a typhoon sweeping away my home and loved ones or guerillas breaking in. I might not have the furnace but I have electricity and friends that let me borrow their space heaters to keep the house relatively warm. I have hot water and a job I love to go to waiting for me the next morning. I could, if I chose, go out to eat at any number of establishments. The Land Cruiser was totaled but the littlest walked away from the scene, not taken to the hospital by ambulance or airlifted to Charleston… or worse. A phone call brought help and me to the middle of nowhere – even in the hills of Greenbrier County. The puppy survived and, thanks to modern medicine and our lovely vet, is back to her old tricks. The truck was taken to the car doctor and is in fine working order.

I happen to live – and you do, too – in one of the wealthiest countries in the entire world. I sometimes take for granted that my house will be standing when I wake up, my children will be safe and the water will come out of the faucet sparkling clean. The car will start, the medicine will be correct and uncontaminated and someone will be there to help if I – or my children – need. I forget sometimes that all this is possible due not really to luck, but to so many people.

People like the HVAC man who came to my house several times to fix the problem with the furnace and put up with the puppy jumping up and down like a reindeer on steroids.

People like builders and contractors that have integrity and take pride in their work so I don’t have to worry about my house falling down because somebody cut a corner or took a bribe. The same kind of people that work on an assembly line for automobiles who care about safety because another human is driving the car.

People like friends, one of whom happened to be driving by right after the wreck and helped calm the littlest at her most hysterical. And the very nice Sheriff’s deputy who showed up and, having daughters of his very own, knew how to help calm the littlest even more until I could get there.

People who keep the cell towers working almost all of the time and, even when the towers aren’t working, answer the customer service line with an attitude towards service and help when I am probably the hundredth person they have talked to that night.

People like ER that does with oh-so-much patience for teenage girls in pain and moms that feel helpless and ask a million and one questions. People like the Physical Therapists that do the same.

People like my veterinarian who never makes me feel like an overprotective puppy-mommy because I can’t talk to the dog and don’t know what hurts her so I call the vet and he fixes her because he does know the language.

People like medical researchers that spend years and years figuring out what new drugs and treatments would be best for what old and new ailments – for people and pets.

People like my coworkers who pick up the slack when things go wrong in my world, greet me with a smile in the morning, venture into unknown territory – literally – because I suggest it and help me do my job well every single day. People like my boss who understands we all have lives and sometimes our lives get in the way of our work. People like photographers and writers who want to tell a story in some way and do it so well.

People like friends who love me and mine that offer their homes, their showers and their spare heaters to keep us warm. Friends that shower us with love and support and flowers and treats. Friends willing to go with me on yet another trip to some out of the way waterfall or mountain field picnic just because. Friends who freely offer smiles and hugs and shoulders to cry on when the going gets rough.

People like my mom, who, sometimes even in the midst of her own rocky road, continues to be one of my best friends, offering her arms and her love, and if the need arises, will talk me off the ledge in just the right way. People like my dad who greets me with the same smile and holds my hand with the same love every single visit even when he hasn’t had the best day or night.

People like my children who, instead of complaining, just put on a sweater when the furnace breaks down, pitch in whenever I ask, bring me breakfast in bed every once in a while just because and continue to show incredible grace and wisdom every single day.

This Thanksgiving I will take my children to see grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins they haven’t seen in years and remember all these other people who make my life and theirs one that is blessed beyond belief. This Thanksgiving I will remember to remember. This Thanksgiving I hope you all can say the same.