November 2, 2012

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

God—and those people around us—loves a grateful heart

Patti LambA few weeks ago, I had a couple of friends over for dessert to celebrate their fall birthdays. I sprang for a strawberry ice cream cake as a treat. I got out my good plates, which I never use, and even mopped the kitchen floor. (Yes, you read that right. I mopped the kitchen floor.)

The night before the little party, my husband discovered the ice cream cake in the freezer and pulled it out to cut a piece.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked, not-so-nicely.

He casually informed me that he was having dessert. The words came out of my mouth before I could stop them.

“No!” I shrieked. “I’m saving that cake for special people!”

Then it became painfully quiet.

My husband frowned and said, “I used to fall into that category.”

Then I remembered the haunting sentences of a book on my nightstand and realized that I’d fallen into the trap the author described.

In Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin writes, “… studies show that married people actually treat each other with less civility than they show to other people. Whether while talking casually or working on a task, people were less courteous and tactful with a spouse than with a person they didn’t know well.”

The author goes on to admit that she catches herself talking to her husband in a way that she would never talk to a friend.

How easy it is to take love for granted. And I find myself doing it too often. I used to put funny little notes in my husband’s truck to brighten the cold, dark mornings when he left for work. I can’t remember the last time I did that.

And it happens with the children, too. The other day, I caught myself shooing my daughter away because I didn’t want to be interrupted while writing a document for the school PTA. She was only trying to show me that she can now successfully write the “g” in her name.

The same goes for my extended family members and old friends. There are some people with whom I’m so familiar and comfortable that I unintentionally take them for granted. I’m so busy trying to please others and meet the world’s demands that I fail to properly recognize those people in my life who bring me the most happiness.

I assume that they already know that I love them. That’s why I do their laundry and fix their lunches and clean their toilets. But I forget that sometimes we need to be reminded in more elementary and obvious ways—like saying “I love you” or giving an overdue hug or phone call.

Thanksgiving is only weeks away. It’s the time of year when we are reminded to be thankful, and we know that God loves a grateful heart. I hope to do a better job at showing appreciation—to God and to others—for the people and things that I’ve been chronically overlooking and under-appreciating.

At the store the other day, I found the perfect card to tape to the steering wheel of my husband’s truck. The front has an adorable illustration of a sweet little person standing under a balloon-clad banner that says, “The First Annual ‘Too Seldom Said’ Day.” The inside simply reads, “I appreciate you more than you will ever know.”

I added one sentence to the card: “You will always be one of my special people, and I should have shared the ice cream cake.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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