I’ll huff and puff and blow a Thanksgiving blessing your way

Last Sunday, my cousin Donnie was grouting floor tiles in my dining area as I worked companionably nearby, tiling a kitchen island area. Kevin had taken our dogs to a dog park in another town neighboring our new Illinois home, but I expected him home soon. One minute the sky outside was blue (though it had been moderately windy all day), and the next minute the sky began rumbling and we were literally surrounded by a torrential rainstorm, complete with spitting small ice chips and winds blowing hard enough to knock down sizeable tree branches in my side yard.

I have nine floor-to-ceiling windows in the area where we were working, so we had a front-row seat as my trees and bushes danced crazily in the high winds and debris swept through our yard.  The storm wasn’t predicted or expected, and Donnie and I simply stared at each other, wondering if Kevin was okay.

About 10 minutes into the rainstorm, Kevin arrived safely home with freaked-out dogs and a child’s swim floatie. “This was in our yard,” he said. “I wonder what town it blew in from?”

He was being facetious, but Thanksgiving is near and we have much to be thankful for this year, including not dying or losing our home in a tornado. While Donnie and I were wondering about my husband’s safety, a tornado leveled Washington, Ill., a small town of 10,000 located about 60 miles from our home. An estimated 1,000 homes sustained damage in that community, and debris was found as far as 90 miles away —which does beg the question of how far the floatie might actually have traveled.

At this time, there are statewide (Illinois) relief efforts for the injured and homeless in Washington, and I thought of the residents again today as I unpacked more boxes and placed a treasured little wooden sign on a shelf that reads, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

I get by with a little help from friends, family, and even strangers. A couple days ago I was in Walmart looking at tile cleaners and spray bottles and another shopper paused to suggest I buy an O’Cedar mop made for tile and laminate wood floors. It has a built-in sprayer, she said. The woman was right — it is the best mop I’ve ever used.

People pause to help me an awful lot lately, either giving me really good advice about how to use a Dremel or steering me to a better product. I blew out a knee several weeks ago and still have a pronounced limp as it slowly heals, and maybe I look harried from rehabbing the house, or maybe people just like my straw cowgirl hat — whatever the reason, I’m getting more assistance than usual from strangers.



Just today, at the local Ace hardware store, a female clerk insisted on carrying my purchases out to my car, and then the owner threw in a couple of electrical caps free when I mentioned I’d forgotten to grab them before checking out. I tried to pay for them, but he slid back my dollar. This incentivized me to stop at the local diner for an impromptu brunch, to take the opportunity to over-tip a waitress a buck, paying it forward. (Plus, the place makes a great omelet, just the way I like.)

So yes, with Thanksgiving looming, I’m grateful for big blessings, narrow escapes, and the kindness of strangers as I continue on this glorious journey known as my life. And today I’m especially thankful for your readership, which links us as surely as I’m now linked to that smart mop lady, the proficient waitress, the kind Ace clerk, and the generous local business owner.

We Irish are known for wishing that the wind will always be at your back — and that is especially true when the wind is capable of blowing down your city, let alone your house. I’d add to that — I hope for your holiday toast next week that the occasion finds you with too many blessings to remember, but a heart up to the task of trying.

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