November is the month when Thanksgiving happens. It is also the month of the incessant posting of Facebook statuses detailing what folks are thankful for. And normally, I refrain. I refrain not from being thankful – just the putting it on Facebook part. Why? Well, because I think we should find something to be thankful for every day not just in November. Even on my worst days and even if that thing is something pretty tiny or seemingly insignificant – I always try to find something to be thankful for. I just don’t post it on Facebook.
But, this year is different.
This year, I am part of a “Planksgiving” challenge group on Facebook. The group is one part building your core with planking/physical fitness and one part building your core values with gratitude. After you’ve finished planking for the day, you post in the group that you’ve completed that day’s challenge and list one thing that you are thankful for.
On November 4th, I posted that I was thankful for sandcastles. Sandcastles… I know, right? Seems like an odd thing to be thankful for, but – I was. Allow me to explain.
That morning, I had just finished up writing about a difficult topic in response to a reader comment on my personal blog. I was mentally drained, a little grouchy, and basically running on coffee and not much else. The kids were watching an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood where they visit the beach and build a sandcastle. So, naturally my kids wanted to build sandcastles too. Well, actually they wanted to go to the beach, but it was a little foggy and a lot cold. So, they settled for sandcastles in our sandbox, and although I was slightly reluctant on account of the chill in the air – I obliged.
I put off the housework that I had planned on doing (totally easy for me) and unplugged (admittedly harder than it should be for me), and while the baby was napping, the older kids and I built a sandcastle. Our gear (an old fencing staple bucket, a strange rectangular red box, and a fireplace shovel) was less than fancy, and our sand was not quite the right consistency, resulting in towers that were a little on the crumbly side.
Try as we may, we could not turn out a perfectly pristine tower. Each time we thought we had the perfect combination of sand, pack, and careful attention – our towers still seemed to crumble slightly. And each time a tower crumbled slightly, my son would say, “Oh man, Mom!” To which I would respond, “It’s ok. It looks cool on this side.” And from where I stood in the sandbox, they did.
The finished product was a sandcastle made up of imperfect towers that were built with crude tools and sand that was a little too dry. It was uniquely ours and it was perfect. In that moment, I was reminded that pristine perfection is often unattainable and that true perfection lies within being uniquely you.
The whole day turned out to be perfectly uniquely us. We smiled. We laughed. We shivered. We built a perfectly imperfect sandcastle – complete with moat. And when we couldn’t handle the chill any longer, we came in and thawed out with a little hot chocolate (coffee in my case) and a lot of hugs.
And I was thankful. Thankful for my kids, friendly little reminders, and sandcastles.