Things that make us smile

I was unexpectedly gifted this a week or so ago – I mean, how perfect is this?!?  There is not one thing not to love.  Christmas – big love; cute cow – big farm girl love; and “moo’s ready for Christmas?” – big creative word use love!!!  There are a few things in the world that I have an overabundance of love for and a continuous looking for the next best one.  The tea towels?  Yup, they’re one.  Then there’s hammers – I love the hammers – ball pein; sledge; light tapping ones; heavy duty 9 inch nail ones; yellow necks, red necks, silver necks, I love the hammers.

You probably need to sit down for this next one.  Vacuum cleaners, not even kidding.  I love the vacuum cleaners – the light lift and carry ones; the heavy there’s no way I’m carrying that up or down the stairs ones; the see the dust swirl inside the cannister ones; the ones that look a little like turtles dragging around on the floor ones.  I tried to like the ones that clean on their own while you’re gone and then make their way back to home base, but not so much.  Clearly having had a number of these in my life over the years, I don’t know if I would like the way too expensive from my point of view ones, I think they wouldn’t be favorites because I would have to keep them forever.

And what started all this, the tea towels – I love the tea towels – the embroidered with the specific days of the week that remind me of my grandma that I use to dry dishes ones; the one with the dog footprints that is probably more a hand towel; the one that’s not worth jack for drying anything but says that oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip are the reason I have issues – how can you not love that; the one that I refuse to use because it says all I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.  And then there’s these most recent ones with the cute cows.  They came with the instruction that they are completely washable so use them, but seriously, they are so cute, my Christmas decorating has begun!  Who would not smile walking into a house and into the kitchen and seeing this hanging over the oven handle???

It reminds me of the interrupting cow joke I told in a sermon one summer many moons ago.  It just happened to be the Sunday that our Jr. High students and our Youth Director and adult volunteers were headed on to a greyhound bus after worship for a long trip to wherever the mission project was that summer.  It wasn’t too long before I received a rather strongly worded text from the Youth Director “thanking” me for putting that joke in the jr. high students heads because they were using variations of that joke all the way down the highway toward the destination.  Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Interrupting cow.  Interrupting cow wh -moooooooo! Knock, knock.  Who’s there? Interrupting ghost. Interrupting ghost wh – boooooooo!  The options are endless and you can make up your own!!!!  But clearly the cow one is the best.

On this Thanksgiving week where we particularly focus on gratefulness, I’m finding myself drawn to that which makes me smile in the midst of some sadness.  We lit more candles for All Saints Day and the people for whom we said our earthly goodbyes in the past year than we have in my long tenure, and it hasn’t stopped.  What that means is there are so many of you, those I know and those I probably don’t, that will have some heartbroken as well as wholehearted gatherings during these holy-days – that some tears will accompany the celebrations and laughter, and in the midst of our fullness, there will also be emptiness that will keep us still for a moment, maybe deep inside or sneaking outside beyond our best efforts.  May God’s grace ease that pain, may those around you love you in the ways that offer the best support, and may the moments of healing in tears and laughter be unexpected gifts along the way.

Perhaps it’s a good time for all of us to think about things that make us smile.  What do you have an overabundant love of that might surprise us?  Hammers?  Vacuum cleaners?  Tea towels?  What jokes do you have in your arsenal that you laugh harder at than anyone else?  What memories of those who have gone before us make you smile at their uniqueness, their gifts to you that continue to impact your life, their way of being in the world that you might want to include in your own?

A life of gratitude does not mean we are never disappointed, sad, or even filled with doubt in the midst of our faith.  It simply means we choose, as best we can, to start from a place of trusting that God is good and wants good things for us.  As the Psalmist says in the 100th, “Give thanks to God, bless God’s name, for the Lord is good.  The Lord’s steadfast love endures forever and the Lord’s faithfulness to all generations.”  In the midst of it all, love wins, never gives up, never gives in, even for eternity…

Love. Always. Wins.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!!