A Short List of Small Gratitudes

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
November 24, 2016

In the spirit of thankfulness and counting one’s blessings, these are some of the things I’m grateful for. Not the enormous ones, mind you. This list is not about beloved family, friends, animal companions, or health. I know that’s what we tend to focus on at this time of year, but if we have the self-awareness God gave a yam, we already know the big things to be grateful for. So I have composed a list—completely random, far from inclusive—of much less important things. Things that tickle me, or that I think of with fondness. Small gratitudes that make me thankful out of all proportion to their size.

Because if you can have beatitudes, you can have gratitudes, right?

• Meyer, our lemon tree, has produced a record-setting 18 lemons this year (the old record was 15, some years ago).


• I carry the recipe for Meyer lemon cream cheese pie in my head—a convenience when I’m at the grocery store.
• The great Carl Barks drew and scripted the finest Scrooge McDuck comics in history (illustrated weird fiction, if you will). Yes, I do have a Carl Barks Scrooge McDuck lithograph hanging on my wall.


• for Fortean Times, my favorite magazine
• for mysteries and anomalies that may never find answers
• I can pay most bills by phone!
• for flyswatters
Architeuthis dux, the Giant Squid, really exists. (Take that, Katie’s 4th grade teacher.)
• The jury is still out (is too!) on lake monsters.
• for Charles Addams cartoons
• for the set of Cards Against Humanity that Katie gave Glen and me for Christmas a few years back, and that we can laugh ourselves silly playing this vile, politically incorrect, hilarious game with her and Wesley in the privacy of our homes, with no one judging us
• Eating turkey at Thanksgiving is not mandated by law. Prime rib, anyone?
• for Julia Child’s prime rib recipe
• for Fungus the Bogeyman, a so-called “children’s” book, by Raymond Briggs


• I never learned to smoke (okay, that one’s a little bigger, but not nearly as big as if I’d taken up the habit and then gone through the agony of quitting).
• But I did learn to drink (*ahem* responsibly).
• for homemade bread to dunk in olive oil swirled with grated parmesan and fresh-ground black pepper
• for ripe persimmons
• I named our grumpy donkeys Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Glen didn’t object.
• for McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal on cold mornings
• for baked apples on cold evenings
• You know, it’s great the way a dumpster and a regularly-maintained portable toilet can just make a homebuilding site more pleasant for everyone.


• On the smoker he designed and built himself, Glen makes the best Texas-style brisket and pork ribs I’ve tasted. EVER.
• for the moment a fish grabs my bait and yanks my cork under
• The convenience store/gas station closest to our house sells fishing gear and bait.
• for my mother’s pound cake recipe
• for the old woman in 1950s Mississippi who shared that recipe with her
• for this:


• for fresh herbs outside my front door


• for autumn, which may take forever to get to Central Texas, but I’d rather wait for autumn than live inside the Arctic Circle
• for Texas summers, but only because they make other seasons seem heavenly in comparison
• for moonlit nights, when coyotes howl with a crazed music that chills my blood
• for griffins, especially the one illustrated by John Tenniel for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


• for Martha Stewart and the early years of her TV show and magazine (yes, I’m serious)
• for automatic gates (It used to take us more than 10 minutes to get from the farmhouse to the county road because of the three gates in the way. We had to get out of the car to open each one, drive through, get out again and then shut it behind ourselves. The sun, the wind, the bugs, the cow flops! I never knew I could get so filthy and disheveled just leaving the house.)
• for the first taste of artichokes in the spring
• And here’s what I consider to be the biggest one on the list: I’ve spent hours poring over Edward Gorey’s eccentric, atmospheric, fantastical books, but my favorite of all is The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel, which my mother gave me when I was a teenager. This book helped inspire me to eventually attempt a novel of my own.


May we all have a Thanksgiving full of gratitudes, large and small!


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14 comments on “A Short List of Small Gratitudes”

  1. This is a delightful list, reflecting the sensibilities of a delightful person!
    I especially appreciated the lithograph and the gryphon. I will check out The Unstrung Harp-I've never read it.
    Please share your mother's pound cake recipe, and Meyer lemon cream cheese pie recipe, and any related stories. I will google the prime rib recipe, as I am totally over the tyranny of turkey for Thanksgiving.
    Lastly, IMHO, Glen's smoker deserves it's own post.
    xxx, C.

    1. Thank you, Claire! And I love your suggestions! I'll share the pound cake recipe in next Thursday's post, and the Meyer lemon cream cheese pie sometime in December, as soon as the lemons fully ripen. And a big YES to writing a post about Glen's smoker,too! I'm smacking myself in the forehead right now, wondering why that didn't occur to me! xxxooo

  2. Went to see Fantastic Beasts ... and it has prepared my mind to absorb all manner of lovely words and thoughts, no matter how strange. This post is so delicious! More, more.

  3. It's the little things that are often overlooked; it's always worth taking the time to delight in them.

    A wonderful list, and happy belated Thanksgiving!

  4. This. Made. Me. SMILE. =) It also made me hungry. I laughed out loud at flyswatters, put a book and a magazine on my to-read list, and feel like I know you so much better just from this (not so) simple list of gratitudes. Thank you, Susan! I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely.

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