Of course, with Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s time for some grateful introspection: to do some cerebral mining in the tunnels of our lives to this point, sorting through our personal hardships and the national stories that so often sadden us, and search for some nuggets of positivity.
In my teaching days, among the multitude of lessons that fell under the rather broad umbrella of language arts, I had my favorites. One of those was teaching figures of speech. From similes, metaphors, metonymies and personifications and on to onomatopoeias and all the rest of those devices that add such creativity to speaking and writing the language, I always loved seeing my students grow in their appreciation of them.
One figure of speech that is germane to today’s column is oxymoron, where language is used in such a way that there is an apparent contradiction which, upon further review, contains an element of truth. Yes, from that poor little rich girl to that educated fool and on to those jumbo shrimp and bittersweet moments and the rest of the examples I would provide, I challenged them to look for ways to make up their own and use them in what they wrote.
Well, when it comes to this Thursday’s big day, one without any of the expectations and pressures of Christmas with all that gift giving, I certainly have an oxymoron on my mind. In short, when it comes to my gratitude, I’m thankful for those big little things in my life.
Now, what leaps first to the minds of many when it comes to such priceless blessings overlooked would be their families and dear friends. However, the smart folks know that these have always been the greatest of our blessings, so they wouldn’t qualify for my big-little-things list. But what about those items that may seem small because we may not pull them out and place them under a bright light often enough?
Well, for me, one of those big little things would have to be something so very many find far too routine and tiresome despite its essential nature to include as a blessing. That something is my ability to still work. Many by my age of 71 are incapacitated, either mentally or physically or both, and, thus, aren’t afforded that opportunity to be productive throughout the work week, earn a paycheck and experience that little extra leisurely feel to a Friday evening that I always have after putting a bow on my weekly 40 hours.
Of course, I’m also very grateful my local paper has seen fit to provide me a forum for the past twenty years or so to do some writing for you. It allows me an opportunity to build some bridges between my experiences and yours and also to tell you about the lives of others who have provided inspirational moments.
Another big little thing for me also is related to my relative good health. Just as I’m thankful I’m healthy enough to work, I’m also so very thankful that I can still, in leisure times, when the weather is cooperating, hop on either of my bikes — both purchased at my go-to cycling shop, Crankers, on the corner of North Main and North Elizabeth — and knock out fifteen or twenty miles with my preferred blue-eyed blonde biking companion, Lady Jane. I hearken back to my teen years when I grabbed that driver’s license and disdainfully cast aside my bike, thinking that phase of my life where I would enjoy riding a bike was over forever. Yet, here I am over fifty years later and already hoping for perhaps a little early December mild weather so that I can take a final spin or two before I have to count the days to spring.
I’ll leave you with one more big-little thing that I’ve thought about several times over the years, specifically, whenever there’s a natural disaster that so devastates others’ lives. That big little thing has to do with where I live.
Politicians have dismissively referred to states in the Midwest like mine as flyover states, nestled somewhere between the West and East Coasts, ones that really don’t matter all that much until there’s a run-up to an election when they’ll come hunting votes.
So many big city folks see my state as pretty boring. However, every time there’s a natural disaster on the edges of the country, say, those wild fires that often rage in California or those hurricanes that bring such devastation, the most recent of which is the late-September arrival of Ian, and his 155 MPH winds and massive storm surges that destroyed so much of Florida, I thank my lucky stars that I mow my small patch of real estate in boring Ohio.
Sure, we’ll have our periodic natural disasters, but there’ve really been only two that challenged me in the 64 years I’ve lived in Lima-the Blizzard of ’78 and the Ice Storm of ’05- and those brought only temporary discomfort, not long-term devastation.
So, on this coming Thanksgiving, I’m going to try to keep my mind off the escalating prices for gas, food and utilities and so many of those national problems that seem at times so overwhelming and simply gives thanks for those truly wonderful oxymoronic biggest of my little things.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]