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Early this morning I was walking down the hallway when a particularly assertive boss I don’t work for anymore ordered me to help out at a big event that was just hours away. He told me he had put an abnormally rude employee I used to know years ago in charge of the meeting. Despite his very forceful instructions, I almost was late for the event, but thankfully I had a car that could instantly turn into a bike, so I made it on time. Then I woke up.
That dream will be fodder for about six things for my gratitude list today. Each day I make a top-10, event-oriented, gratitude list and review my top-10 gratitude list for the year, just in case a daily item qualifies for the Big List. The daily list is usually made up of small little things so that each day it doesn’t include the same things like God, family and Stromboli Pizza from The Pie Pizzeria in Salt Lake City. God still makes the list, but it is usually for doing something specific like helping me avoid a car accident or reminding me that I left my wallet on top of the car.
So today’s list might include the following:
- I no longer work for that abrasive boss.
- I haven’t thought about that annoying employee for years, and now I don’t have to think about him ever again, let alone work with him.
- I’m not expected to help out at a major event today.
- I have an entrepreneurial idea for creating a car that can be instantly transformed into a bike.
- While I expect this boss could still order me around, if he wanted to — you have to know him to understand how he could pull that off — he never calls me now that I don’t work for him anymore.
- I woke up today.
That’s a good start. If I wasn’t writing a column, I would add four more things to the list. On a great day, all of those things would be forced off the list by the end of the day. Linking my gratitude list with specific events allows people like my friend John — who is a trouble maker — to compete successfully with beautiful sunsets and the Logan River by simply giving me a call. Lots of my friends know about the list and seem to be honored to find out they made it. Making the top-10 list for the year, however, is extremely difficult. No. 1 on the list, for example, is the love and compassion that my wife consistently showed my daughter earlier this year when she unexpectedly had to spend weeks in the hospital.
It is possible to buy your way on the list. For example, someone, who doesn’t even know about the list, bought me a car this year. Both of my kids wanted to make the Big List so they announced within days of each other that they are planning to have babies next year. That’s how far people will go to make the Big List.
I have a good friend who grows cherry tomatoes in a special greenhouse in Washington state. These are not ordinary tomatoes. They are grown with great love, and he even plays them music to make them more perfect. When you bite into one, it explodes in your mouth with flavor, color and tomato music that has been stored up inside. They are amazing, and I think they may be my favorite food in the world. Every once in a while, when we lived in Washington, he would give me a bag of the tomatoes. I was very appreciative. He told me that he had given his rare tomatoes to other friends who offered him no such reaction. Those friends only get one bag of tomatoes per life, he said.
I think God is like that and, in fact, there are scriptures that back up that contention. He is disappointed when he gives us blessings all day long and then we just complain when we say our evening prayers. Since I really like God’s cherry tomatoes, I want to make sure that he keeps them coming. That’s one of the reasons I do my gratitude list.
And I think we should be grateful for stuff too. Look around you right now. Is there anything within eyesight that you really appreciated when it came into your life but now you take it for granted? Within a foot of my computer, hanging on the wall, is a set of very old boxing gloves that my sister and brother bought for me. I found them in a special glass case at Deseret Industries and I really needed them bad but I had no money. They bought them for me that day as a birthday present even though my birthday was still weeks away. I should never take them for granted. They are on the wall to remind me to keep fighting and not to give up. They are symbolic and give me hope that even though I cannot afford Stromboli Pizza today, I will be able to afford it again someday.
Were the old boxing gloves really a cherry tomato from God? They might be. I can’t take a chance that he didn’t have a hand in that. In my life, he seems to be involved in all sorts of good stuff. Maybe I’ll put them on the list today.
Do I think that you should remember to be grateful for the small things in life? Maybe. That’s got to be up to you. I am really trying to make a more important point here and that is that I really need some Stromboli Pizza. I think someone in Salt Lake City should buy one for me. I’ll share it with you and my wife. And here’s the good part: You just might make my list today. If you throw in a new car, you could probably make my Big List.
How do you like them tomatoes? I know I would.
Steve Eaton lives in Logan, Utah, far away from Stromboli Pizza. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com.