If there is a circle of life, that circle just might be the "O" at the start of "Oprah."
It all starts and ends with Her Royal TalkNess, dunn't it?
If we need a book to read, she tells us what to buy, and invariably we'll find ourselves gratified to have paged through yet another tale of an abused foster child in the American South.
If we need shoes to ogle, she marches out in a pair of brown suede Louboutin ankle boots, rousing all viewers to a fevered pitch.
If we find ourselves feeling politically undecided or veering towards independence, Ms. Winfrey-If-You're-Nasty tells us for whom to cast our vote.
If we need to buy Christmas gifts, she details a list of several thousand dollars worth of her Favorite Things, never minding that we can hardly afford to buy Panini Presses for twenty-four of our closest friends, much less fit such a thing into a stocking.
And if we find ourselves spiritually hollow, she recommends we keep "gratitude journals," catalogues of our internal thank you's which spur on greater appreciation and, subsequently, result in renewal and abundance.
Frankly? I'm not sure how challenging a gratitude journal is when you sleep on 700-thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets, own six homes, and have a personal chef flavoring your gnocchi with truffle oil. And personally, I feel the time I would spend on a gratitude journal is better spent clinking the spoon into my nearly-empty ice cream bowl, as I--deliberately and gratefully--swipe out every last remnant of the Moose Tracks.
Plus, I can hardly make it through a day without at least a two-minute weeping break simply for the wonderment of it all: my robust health, my children's intelligence and beauty, my husband's steadfast adoration, my dynamic job, my gracious house, the stack of books on my nightstand, the readers of this blog, the chance to see Juno, the espresso maker, the fleece socks, the gentle curve in the handle of my toothbrush.
Every day is full. Every day is amazing. I don't get over that.
So I don't keep a journal of my thank you's, as a rule. However, since the new year has just launched, it does seem a fair moment to take stock of the bounty that plumps up my life and waistline.
Of course, I am also bountiful in years, and since I've hit forty, the memory ain't what she used to...
Crap. I trailed off there. What was I saying?
Something about losing the power of memory. I can't recall the rest.
At any rate, since my memory would be hard-pressed to cover the entire year in review, I'll limit myself to Recent Days of Gratitude:
1) Saturday: Thank you, Little Pork Pies. When Groom rolled out that pie crust and brought the muffin tins up from the basement, I knew it was still the giving season. Of course, I'm almost better at receiving than giving, so thanks for the receipt of those warm, crusty, flaky pies stuffed full of pork and onions and sloughed-off skin cells. Every bit of it was yum.
2) Sunday: Thank you, Zamboni, for being the perfect distraction. Most wondrous of machines (save the hot air balloon, if we can count that as a machine), you were there at the hockey rink in Lester Park at just the right time, re-surfacing the ice as Girl and I, tired from an hour-and-a-half ski around a groomed loop, hit that last long, steep hill. Knowing we'd break limbs if we attempted the descent, our pretended interest in you, Zamboni, gave us cause to take off our skis and let them slide down the hill, unpersoned, as we chased after them. You kept up your work as we retrieved our rogue skis from the bushes, chere Zamboni, so we could point at you and marvel at your prowess instead of considering that we might be spineless wimps, too cowardly to hurl our bodies into the open, white softness, preferring instead to hoof it down Everest there.
By the way, Zambon-er, through the twirling of your brushes, did you get a look at that Girl of mine? Did you see her chugging along all that time, over hill and dale, before she de-ski-ified? Could you believe she's only seven and just kept going and going, so good-naturedly? If you are ever fortunate enough to spit a little Zamboodlie out your junk, Ms. Zamboni, you'd count yourself doubly lucky to have one like my Girl.
3) Monday: Thank you, Chicken McNuggets, for providing the leverage to get my kids to agree to play in the YMCA's "Kids' Club." They have been burned there before by a scary babysitter lady named Judy (as Girl described her a couple of years ago, "Even when a kid hasn't done anything wrong, she talks at them like they have"), making them reluctant to hang out in this "club" so that their mama can get in a workout on the days when Pappy is at work (good thing he's a lazy slouch, and that's a rarity in our lives). But as soon as I slip the words "Happy" and "Meal" and "McNuggets" and "new Bionicle toy" out of my mouth, along with the caveat that these things find life only in the Kids' Club, the deal is struck; the deed is done; the fries are ketchupped; the mother is sweaty and giddy with endorphins.
4) Tuesday: Thank you, NPR, for talking in my ear whenever I run or ski or cook. Sure, as happened today, you freaked out some onlookers who passed me on the Superior Hiking Trail. They couldn't figure out why the redhead running on snowshoes was sobbing as she puffed along. It didn't look that painful, after all, and she seemed to have a choice about what she was doing. So why the tears?
Because your stories move me, NPR. When you pour into my ears audio essays about people's lives--as a man weakens from cancer and passes away in a hospital bed placed in the living room; as a father of a child with mental delays notes, "My son has so much to give, but unfortunately there are very few takers"; as a transgendered individual explains why a life on the streets as a "working girl" is the best she can expect for happiness--I am reminded of my copious luck. These vignettes, peppered with the sublime counterpoint of Pavarotti's soaring tenor, keep my cheeks frozen with tears of salutation.
So you see, Ofrey Winprah Steadwoman, my hours are breathing entries in an unwritten journal of gratitude. You can tell me what bra to buy, how to network with angels, and how to lose weight by dragging the fat out onto a stage in a Little Red Wagon, but the truth is that you can't tell me how to live my best life. I'm on my own with that one.
Providentially, 2007 offered up 362.5 days of grace and acclamation and awe.
The other 2.5 days sucked fudge crackers, of course.