I’m Thankful For a Clean Oven, Fresh Ice Cubes . . . and a Daughter-in-Law-to-Be

A lava rock steppingstone garden path. Photo by BF Newhall

Jillian the Garden Artisan finished the job my newspaper-colleague-turned-gardener friend Bob Rothe started 28 years ago. She added more lava rock and bordered it with isotoma. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It’s Thanksgiving and I should be thankful for the really big things. I should be grateful that there are no air raid sirens screaming through my neighborhood. No incoming rockets. No anti-missile missiles.

I should be thankful that my neighborhood is high and dry and three thousand miles from the path of Hurricane Sandy.

I should be grateful that I don’t need hip surgery, knee surgery, chemotherapy or a heart transplant. I don’t even need Botox. (You are a kind person. You will not argue this point.)

I should be thankful for the big things.

lava-rocks-piled-on-garden-stairway-ready-to-install. Photo by BF Newhall

Lava rocks ready to become steppingstones.

But I can’t help myself. I can’t round up any big, juicy feelings of gratitude for the things that have not gone wrong in my life. I take the good stuff for granted. Can’t help myself.

What I’m grateful for, what I’m really jazzed and excited about today, are the small – OK, miniscule – things that have gone right for me lately.

For example, the family Thanksgiving will be at our house this year, the grown-up kids will be here, and I’ve managed to get a few things done on time.

  • On Sunday I successfully cleaned the oven – days before our daughter, The Cook, arrived from southern California with her Thanksgiving Day recipes.
  • On Monday I remembered to dump all the stale ice cubes out of the freezer bin so the ice cube maker could refill it with fresh ice before the out-of-town guests arrived.
  • Last week I got all the knives in the knife drawer sharpened.
  • Way back in October, I had the foresight to call the window washer and get all the windows in the house washed. First time since 2008.
  • And best of all . . . two weeks ago I finally gave myself permission to go to the rock yard and splurge big money on some gorgeous lava rocks. Now there is a sweet steppingstone path winding through our small – and very steep – front yard . . .  Jillian the gardener dug  into the hillside and laid the rocks, nice and flat. And now I can pick flowers, photograph dragonflies and pull weeds without rolling down the hill into the jasmine patch.

I am grateful for all of the above. I am deeply grateful that it was accomplished in time for the arrival of our son Peter and his fiancée (yes! fiancée!) from Minnesota, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

The Fiancée is adorable. She is beautiful. She is smart and sensible (mothers-in-law like sensible). Best of all, I’m pretty sure she loves my son. (I know he loves her.)

Let me think. In the gratitude department, a sensible, lovable daughter-in-law-to-be probably outranks clean windows and fresh ice cubes. How in the world did I miss that? Of all the things to be grateful for, a happily married son has to be at the top of the list.

Oh my. What’s that I’m feeling? I think it might be . . . gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Here’s another story about my new mother-in-law status. My soon-to-be-married son Peter was once upon a time a little guy. Here’s a story about him — “When a Six-Year-Old Flies Solo.”  

Peter proposed to his girlfriend very romantically. Jon’s and my story is a little different; read about it at  “The Day She Popped the Question.




  1. Emily Nystrom says:

    I appreciate the kind words! I’m looking forward to being part of the Newhall family, though I’ve already felt so for a while now thanks to your family’s welcoming nature.

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