I know what you're thinking. "Wow...Ali is a total slacker. Talking about all the things she's thankful for and then she only does three day's worth? Laaaaame".
In truth, I've been really busy. The kind of busy that involves working harder and playing harder than I have in a long time. Between trips to Tuscaloosa for Girl's Weekend, my birthday, Business Trips to DC and Board Meetings that took years off of my life but turned out great in the end, I'm exhausted. But then, I came home to find my Southern Living Christmas Edition magazine waiting for me and wanted to weep with joy, and then was solidly back. Because Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and then comes the gloriousness that is Christmas, and then life will be grand!
So, without further ado, Days 4 through 9 (after the cut)
Day 4: Coffee
I don't function without coffee. At all. If I don't have coffee, it's going to be a terrible day for anyone involved. There is nothing more fantastic than waking up in the morning to my wonderful husband leaving a cup of fresh, piping hot coffee he had gotten up early to make for me by my bed. And, in his intelligence, he doesn't try to talk to me unless I've had a little bit of it to drink. We are Folgers people. I admire Keurig machines, but there's something about a coffee pot that brings to mind memories of a fantastic, childhood morning, with my parents and tons of happiness. Every time I feel the caffeine start to work, I just can't help but think about how blessed I am.
Day 5: My House
If I didn't have such great friends and a job I like, I would be the best recluse ever. My home is my happy place. It's where the things I love most in life (my husband and my dogs) live, and it's roomy and homey at the same time. It is the complete opposite of the house I had wanted to buy (We looked at about 18 little 1920's bungalow before Michael regrettably informed me that his 6'7'' frame didn't fit in any of them before I finally relented to buying a ranch). Coming home every day is the highlight of my day, and I'm so thankful to have a roof over my head at a time where that's not always possible for so many people.
Day 6: My College Friends
I have the best friends in the entire world. They make me laugh, are astonishingly honest with me when I need them to be, and shared a hugely wonderful part of my life with me. We've done very well keeping up with one another, but even when the time in between conversations lag, we can always pick up right where we left off. I feel so blessed to be able to "grow up" with these girls, and share in each other's happiness and struggles.
Day 7: My Nashville Friends
I feel so blessed to have made such a wonderful group of friends up here. They make me laugh, and have taken me on all kinds of adventures. They inspire me, accept me, and teach me even more about what it takes to be a great wife, mother, and a friend in this crazy, grown up world.
Day 8: Football
This is corny, but football has given me so much in life. It gave my dad an education, that enabled him to create a better life for my mom and my sister and I. It gave him the determination to succeed in the corporate world, and gave us a system of friends that are really more like family. It gave my husband his education and the confidence he could rise about the world's expectations of him and carve out the life he wanted to live. It gives me a lot of joy and family time with the people I love most, and is something I share with the people that are nearest and dearest to me.
Day 9: Nashville
This is the best city in the world, hands down. I've lived in five different states, two countries and eight different cities, and can say unequivocally that Nashville is my favorite. It's urban, but not too urban. It's southern, but has open-minded people. It's got miles of land, and it's got a fantastic night life. I feel so blessed to live in a city that lets me have so many wonderful adventures and holds so many wonderful people.
I'm addicted. It's like facebook, but makes me feel like I have a bigger purpose in wasting my time (after all, aren't I finding recipes and crafts to make my family happy?!?). The world is full of crazy and chaos, and it's so nice to have a vehicle that enables you to have some calm and beauty in your life.
Day 11: Google
Seriously, what did we do before google? When I can't remember the name of that restaurant we ate at that one time three years ago with the good wine list, a quick (and rather vague) google search answers my question. I'm one of those people who becomes miserable and obsessed with figuring out things that are on the tip of my tongue, so google has gone a long way to keep my blood pressure down.
Day 12: Green Door Gourmet
I'm so thankful to live in a city with such a commitment to sustainable CSAs. I adore having fresh grown veggies and the opportunity to support local farms. The people behind it are fantastic, and every time I go there I remember how beautiful the world is and how all the things God gave us to live with are more than enough.
Day 13: Sullivan Lawn Care
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I'm SO incredibly thankful for our lawn care group. They are the kindest people, and do an amazing job on our 70% slope of a hill. My husband and I would have broken our necks fifteen times over had we tried to cut it ourselves. They are a family business with a soul, and I am so grateful for them.
Day 14: Wine
This may make me sound like an alcoholic (I'm not, I promise), but I'm thankful for red wine. Red wine has brought me through the worst times in my life and the best. It's toasted me on great occasions, and it's made me stop blubbering on others (mostly handed to me by well-meaning friends). To this day, there is nothing I enjoy more than cuddling on the couch with Michael and enjoying a glass, or sharing one with friends.
Day 15: My In-Laws
I was put in a position of craziness about a year in to Michael and my relationship. Without going into too much detail, it made my Mother-in-Law (and her family) and my relationship accelerate at a break neck pace. Today, I'm so happy to call them all my family as well. We've been through a lot together, and even through highly dramatic situations, we've managed to carve out a better place for ourselves. I'm so thankful to be named the Godmother for Michael's cousin's new baby, and to celebrate Thanksgiving with all of them at our house.
Day 16: My Aunts
Every time I set the table, I inevitably think about my sweet Aunts. Not only did my Aunt Penny introduce me to the man I would eventually marry, but my Aunts Pat and Ellen literally spent the first 15 years of my life hounding me to pick out a china pattern. When I finally did, they were estatic and bought me (literally) the entire set. By visiting my Aunt Ellen's gorgeous Antebellum home, I learned to set a table and prepare a meal that would nourish the bodies and lift the spirits of the people I loved most. By visiting my Aunt Pat's lakefront cottage, I learned about the joy of packing a picnic and just talking. They inspire me to be better, and I love our annual traditions that make us visit and spend quality time together.
Day 17: The USA
I know there are hundreds of other countries in this world (none of which have the motto of "We're Number 2"), but I feel so blessed to have been born in this country, in the South, with all the freedoms that other people cannot fathom. When I taught ESL, I listened to one Somali woman tell her tell of trying to get her children to school in the morning and directing them down routes where they wouldn't get stoned to death. With all of our "first world problems", I can tend to take the most basic freedoms for granted, and am so grateful for those who defend our freedoms so I can continue to worry about silly things like what to fix for dinner.
Day 18: My Church
Sundays are my favorite day of the week, and it's largely in part of the wonderful church family we have at Highland Park Church. We've been going there for over 2 years, and it's enabled us to hear some amazing sermons, learn some crucial life lessons, strengthen our marriage, and really become involved in our community. I am so thankful that it is something my husband and I love and do together, and has increased our spiritual health both individually and together. It also helps me remember that my problems are very small in the grand scheme of things, and teaches me to focus on others more.
Day 19: God
More than anything else, I'm so thankful for a God that would offer me eternal life and salvation that I definitely don't deserve. God's love is so mysterious and so beautiful, and I see it everywhere I look.