Years ago, I met a woman who told me what her little boy taught her about gratitude.
It was right around this time of year, just before Thanksgiving, when she asked her son what he was grateful for. Her little boy frowned thoughtfully and was silent for several seconds. She was sure he was about to come up with a heartwarming sentiment worthy of a greeting card, the sort of "right answer" parents expect to hear from small children.
Instead, he said, "Pizza."
It would have been very easy, the mother told me, to correct her son and go for the "appropriate" response. Home or family or health or something like that. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she was also thankful for pizza.
And why not? It's tasty. It's widely available. Good for sharing, leftovers, and beer. It prevents cooking.
I'm grateful for pizza, too. Sure, I'm grateful for freedom and health and employment and all that, too. But that does not make gratitude for pizza wrong. I am actually grateful for pizza more often than I am for large-ticket items because I enjoy pizza in such a finite way. That first bite of the first slice. The cheese, the mushrooms, maybe an anchovy. The firm crust. And then, once it's over, those last few minutes with the beer, thinking of how wonderful the whole experience was.
Yeah. I'm glad we have pizza. But the world's full of those little things that make life special. In fact, I think gratitude makes everything – the little things and the big ones – equally significant. We don't have to look far to find something that inspires gratitude. We just have to look.
I may have mentioned several times that I was at Romanticon last month, surrounded by hot shirtless men. That by itself is something to be grateful for. The Cavemen tend to travel in small groups, a habit that occasionally results in a lucky woman (like myself) sharing an elevator with four or five of them.
I had been on the elevator first, so I found myself in the rear corner. The guys were unusually quiet. They're typically gregarious and chatty in a way that brings even a dyed-in-the-wool nerd like me out of her shell. But that day, they were all watching the numbers counting down as we descended.
At least I think that's what they were looking at. I was too busy staring at them with an impunity I could not have enjoyed if they were talking to me. I studied all those powerful shoulders and long fingers and nice, big hands. I struggled mentally to describe the way they held themselves. I wondered if they could tell I was staring at them.
And then it was over. The doors opened in the lobby, and they all headed off together, to wherever they were going. I had to stand there for a minute, in the way, trying to remember where I was going.
I decided that I was grateful for this job, with its exotic destinations and elevators full of hot shirtless men. Grateful just for elevators, and how small and slow they are. Grateful for that quiet spot in the rear corner. I would even have been grateful if, heaven forbid, that particular elevator had stopped working altogether.
That's right. If I had been trapped in an elevator full of hot shirtless men, I would have found the silver lining. I'm an optimist like that.
Now, as sexy as my day-to-day life is, I am sorry to say that it is not THAT sexy every day. Yet. Even so, I'm grateful for the little sensual delights each day has to offer. A perfectly cooked meal. A good book and the free time to enjoy reading it. A friendly wave from the FedEx man, who seems to have no idea that he's gorgeous. Pizza.
What are you grateful for?
**Alexa Day is grateful for any number of things this month, including her completion and submission of her first manuscript, Project NSA. She's not sure what she'll do once NaNoWriMo is over, but you can check her out here, Below the Fold, on the first Wednesday of the month, and on her own blog every Thursday.