Slices of Life...When weird things make us happy
I have a friend who wondered out loud on Facebook whether it was weird for her to be excited about the purchase of a new vacuum cleaner. There can be only one answer to an outrageous question like this:
H-E-double toothpicks, no!
A vacuum is worthy of a fair amount of hoopla. It is a nearly-essential household appliance, albeit not a major one, but in a similar position of importance as a crockpot or coffee maker. (And who'd want to live without those?) I can get excited about a whole lot less than a vacuum -- like when my stainless steel fridge is free of streaks and smudges or I happen to nab the last scoop of rocky road ice cream.
Just last week I self-actualized over new dishtowels. They brought about a trifecta of elation: they were crisply folded, unstained and coordinated with the décor of my kitchen. Best of all, they were accompanied by matching dishcloths. I felt myself advancing upward toward the peak of that proverbial pyramid. Exclamation point.
One thing leads to another. After putting the new dishtowels neatly in the dishtowel drawer (joy), I experienced a sudden urge to revamp the plastic storage container cupboard. I invested about 10 bucks in a set of new containers and tossed out all the old, stained lidless ones. For the first time in 20-plus years of marriage, I can honestly say all my bowls have lids. It is a proud, nirvanesque moment.
Making up words -- yet another trivial act that brings me joy.
We are entering the season of gratitude. Usually, when we go around the table at my house during holiday meals, we pause and reflect on the big things that make us happy. And, while it's true that family, friends, our health, a trip to Disney World and mom's special green bean casserole are worthy of our gratitude, it's the little things that give purpose to each day and make the world seem more inviting.
Getting rid of the clutter so your car fits in the garage. Finding the lost candy bar you hid and forgot about two weeks ago. Socks without holes. New batteries in the remote. Standing on the bottom shelf to reach an item on the top shelf at the grocery store. A matching pair of mittens.
Having a spouse who understands it's his job to rid the house of spiders. Organizing the silverware so none of the knives are spooning with the spoons. When all the toilets are clean all at once. Finding a five-dollar bill in the clothes dryer. When none of the kids has borrowed or moved your phone charger.
Catching the elevator before the doors close. Finishing the bottle of shampoo and conditioner at the same time. When your husband takes your car, so he can fill the gas tank. Discovering someone else in the family has put a new roll of toilet paper in the holder. When your kids make their beds -- really make them -- without any harping from you. Preparing a meal everyone eats without complaint; having the whole family sit around the dinner table together. Saying, "thank you."
For vacuums and dishtowels and bowls with lids and chocolate and ice cream and phone chargers. For family and friends and the people who take care of us because they want to and they can. For the everyday and the once-in-a-lifetime. For the small things. For weird things. For everything.
Gratitude on steroids. Gratitude with abandon. I like to think of it as practical gratitude worth practicing because being thankful leads to happiness, and isn't that what we're all after, in the end?
Live it out for yourself. During the gratitude season, and every day of the year, do as many happy dances as you possibly can -- even and especially while vacuuming.
Cloquet resident Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.