A few weeks ago, my husband and I stayed with some friends of ours who happen to be children. Our stay was due to the fact that their parents (who are also our friends) were spending a week in Hungary.

This was the best.

Brianna got me hooked on a Disney Channel show that was actually decent. I will not tell you what it is, because you don’t need any further foothold for your judgment THANK YOU VERY MUCH. The only downside of this was the time she watched two episodes on her iPod before I got home from work, and I missed a very important and climactic kiss that absolutely EVERYBODY had been waiting for since the first two seconds of the show.

We went to Bangkok Taste Cuisine on a Friday night and had crayon drawing contests on our placemats. Only one of us was young enough to actually receive crayons from the waitress herself, so the rest of us hoarded the best colors away from him like the greedy misers we are. Marcus and I were also the only ones that could really draw, but Matea drew a penguin with sprinkles in its barf, so she gets extra points for panache.

On a Thursday, we stopped at our own house to pick up a few things. While we toured the second floor (BASK in our implied affluence, please), my husband threw Marcus around in the air. When Marcus suddenly screamed “OUCH, MY NUGGETS,” Brent sat him down and told him that he was too old to say those kind of things, young man, because you’re contracted to say stuff like that when watching someone else’s children. But then Marcus pulled from his pocket a wad of smashed-up leftover chicken nuggets FROM HIS SWEATSHIRT POCKET that he had saved from our trip to Culvers. Bri and I died on the spot.

Lest you think that parenthood is all fun and games and fast food, I feel obligated to admit that we were also present, if not responsible for, the untimely death of the bunny rabbit. As Hannah Montana reminds us, nobody’s perfect, and that’s why you give back kids that aren’t yours when you get the chance.

The weirdest thing about the whole experience was that I slept in the same bed as my husband in someone else’s house. Because I am apparently Puritanically repressed, I kept waking up to nightmares that someone would burst into the room and make me write a formal apology to the Deacons and Elders.

This did not happen, because I am married, and also because that does not happen.

I’m usually a very heavy sleeper. It is rare that any waking up occurs in between Wow, Nice Pillow… and HOLY CRAP, IT’S MORNING. Because of The Deacon and Elder Nightmares, however, I woke up more often than the usual zero times. One morning, I woke up about ten minutes before my alarm was set to sound. This sort of situation is usually reserved for people who are trapped in purgatory, but for some reason, it happened to me.

I was grumpy. And then I was grateful. And then I was steadily overcome with happiness. I really, really love the person who was sleeping next to me in the bed. I really, really love the kids who were about to be mad at me for making them go to school. I really, really love their mattress, which was probably invented by the Lord himself on the eighth day. I really, really love being alive, most thousand minutes of the day.

So I prayed for approximately eight straight minutes “Thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you; thank you… ad infinitum.”

Kurt Vonnegut once said that every single time something lovely happens, we should mutter aloud to anyone that will hear, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” I am sometimes uncomfortable with prayers of gratitude. I worry about sliding into a tar pit of self-aggrandizement, where I thank God because he loves me more than the rest of those schlubs out there. If I thank God that I got the job, am I also thanking him that someone else didn’t? I’m not really sure.

But I think that morning was the first time I’ve ever had an overwhelming rush of delight that I redirected as a prayer. With every minute of repeated “thank you,” I dove deeper and deeper into the spring of “If this isn’t nice, what is?” This was a different sort of thanksgiving. I really meant it. I’ve never surfed before, due to the fact that my body is useless in doing anything that might make someone say “wow! cool!”, but I really think surfing is the most accurate metaphor. Instead of paddling around with my tiny little chicken arms like I’ve always done, I let myself ride the wave.

And I think I like Thanksgiving a little differently now.

In case some of you are feeling a bit over-sapped, I will lighten the mood by confessing that the Disney channel show in question was, in fact, the British teen drama The Lodge. There; ARE YOU HAPPY??!

I am glad to know a seventh-grader who will watch dumb television with me, and I’m glad to draw on paper placemats, and I’m glad for the existence of American Thai food, and I’m glad sometimes people put chicken nuggets in their sweatshirt pockets. I’m relatively confident that none of those things reflect my superiority in God’s eyes, so I guess I’m just glad that he invented a world that made lovely things possible in the first place, modest and grandiose. I’m glad he exists, and if he doesn’t, I’m glad to have believed. I’m glad to be a human being, and as one, set up with the basic prospect of encountering some wonderful sliver of joy at least once in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving. If this isn’t nice, what is?

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