Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"On the First Day of Christmas" Revamping a Carol with Gratitude

"On the first day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me..."
So begins the Christmas song that reminds me more of "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" than of anything to do with a baby in a manger.

I'm pretty good with the early numbers. It's when I get up to 10, 11, and 12 that I get confused. Is it "10 pipers piping" or "10 drummers drumming?"

Sometimes I feel like Fozzie Bear, forgetting what comes next:

"Ba-dum BOM BOMP!"

This year, in the spirit of thankfulness that the season brings, I'm going to revamp the 12 Days of Christmas with lyrics that more accurately reflect the gifts I've been blessed with and the things that make my life worth living. ('Cause, truth be told, if my True Love gave me a partridge in a pear tree, I wouldn't be singing about it. At least, I wouldn't be warbling a particularly happy song.)

I owe the inspiration, in part, to Kathy at Bliss Habits (@BlissHabits). Her blog is dedicated to the intentional enjoyment and awareness of things that bring us bliss. One of her Bliss Habits is "Gratitude."

Recently, I encountered a question that challenged me: 

If you woke up tomorrow with only the things you'd given thanks for today, 
what would still be in your life?

I want to be more intentional in my gratitude. I have enough clothes to wear and won't go to bed hungry. I can see, hear, taste, run, create, worship Whomever I want and freely voice my thoughts. For these and many other things, I am grateful.

Perhaps by sharing my 12 Days of Christmas, I can encourage you to come up with your own list of things that bless your life.

"On the first day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
An old farm in the country."
I live in a house that's over 120 years old, situated on 60 soggy acres in southwestern Michigan. Few would consider that anything to sing about. I, however, could compose odes to our home all day long.
My view from the dining room table.

When we started house hunting, we were young and had precious little money. We knew we wanted enough acreage to keep a few horses, and we had to be within driving distance of WunderGuy's work. As a result, we looked at every falling-down fixer-upper within 50 miles. We looked... And looked... And looked.

There was the "Indoor Pool House" with 3 feet of standing water in the basement.

There was the "Gadget House," full of every conceivable amenity from built-in vacuum cleaner and intercom system to convection ovens and warming racks in the kitchen. None of which worked. If WunderGuy had been an electrically-gifted handyman, the house would have been a steal. As it was, we only saw a Money Pit of broken gizmos.

Then there was the "Death House," in which an entire room was painted a dull, dead blue, and a pentagram covered the floor. Mounds of melted candle wax and the dessicated bodies of mice and other hapless creatures completed the decor. Um... no.

We looked for over a year. We despaired of ever finding something we both liked and could afford. Then we looked at an old brownstone farmhouse. As soon as I walked through the front door, I knew that I was home.
Sunrise from my kitchen window.

It needed significant work. Some projects, like needing a kitchen, new windows, and a barn, we knew about when we bought the place. Others -- like needing a new bathroom and furnace -- were unexpected surprises. But it felt like home the first day we moved into it and 20 years later, its hominess has only increased.

I'm grateful for my home. I consider a dry, safe, welcoming place a great blessing. Sure, it's old. Sure, it has about a million and one things that could be done to update it and make it better. Sure, I have friends whose homes are newer, nicer, and less covered with dog hair. But I'd be hard-pressed to find a home with more love in it. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

That's Day 1. Tune in tomorrow for Day 2...

With 12 days left to Christmas, what one thing are you most grateful for?


Kathy (from Bliss Habits) said...

Thank you so much for the shout out! What a great question!!!

If you woke up tomorrow with only the things you'd given thanks for today,
what would still be in your life?

Perhaps you'd like to chime in next week for Gratitude week? I'd be honored to have you as my guest!

Ami Hendrickson said...


I'd love to be a Gratitude Week guest. Thanks for the offer. And thanks for your blog. I love it.

Dave said...

I think old homes are beautiful with the history that they hold, and which you get the privilege of continuing. I'd take one of those over the cookie-cutter clutter of suburbia, any day (well, maybe not a farm...that's not my thing...:))

Thanks for posting this, and thanks in advance for the upcoming posts in this series. This is re-orientation that we very much need.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks for commenting. I agree - I'd choose the hand-built, from-the-ground-up kind of house over the clones of suburbia any day. The family who owned our house raised 8 children in it: without indoor plumbing! The original stone outhouse still stands, a testament to a very different time. I remind myself of that every time I feel tempted to complain that our family of 3 needs more room. In a very real way, my home keeps me grounded. :)

Unknown said...

Beautiful post - and beautiful home. We've been trying to escape the "clones of suburbia" ever since we left the farm. I'm convinced that kids need the land to grow up on; to rely upon. Instead, they're handed cell phones and ipods and driven to baseball practice.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks for commenting. I agree with your conviction that there is something about living on a farm that grows good *people* as well as good food. Nothing handed to you there. Everything is hard-won and earned. We do our children such a disservice when we give them every new gadget. Kids weren't made to be wired. They need fresh air, IMO, far more than they need batteries.

~steps down from soap box...~ :D

TexanBrit said...

Love what you're doing with your blog, and who cares about some dog hair! One thing though - thought you might want to know it's not actually the Twelve Days of Christmas yet. Officially Christmas starts on Christmas Day and goes through to either Jan 5th (which is Twelfth Night & traditionally when the Xmas decorations come down) or Jan 6th, depending on your preference. :o)
Still, this gives you the option to do a whole new version starting on the 25th if you want. :o)

Ami Hendrickson said...

True, it's not yet the official 12 Days of Christmas, but here in Hendrickson House, celebrating Christmas (the season, not the Reason) officially ends on Christmas Day.

The tree is down on New Year's at the latest because my daughter's birthday is on Jan. 4. We try to draw a clear line between "Christmas" and "birthday" because they fall so close together.

So... here, at least, the 12 Days of Christmas will be over on Dec. 25, instead of just beginning. :)

Jae said...

I think you should totally sponsor a 12 Days of Christmas blog posting again. I'd join up with you, I'm sure a lot of other people around here would too. You could start it Dec 12 so people don't have to blog on Christmas if they'd rather not and do it 12 days from that date. If you do decide to do it, let me know, I could create a graphic for it and jump in. :D