In America this week, we're celebrating Thanksgiving. It has always been one of my favorite holidays, even though my love of football is now limited to the English version. Somehow the day feels endless, with family and friends gathered around the largest table they can find. By the time the pie is served, a little bit of honesty has usually found its way into the conversation, for better or worse. There's an inevitable closeness that descends as the day turns dark and cold.
Uncommon artist and friend, @etherbrian, made me realize that the closeness I'm thinking of traces its way to "reminisces of bygone holiday minutiae. Aunts, uncles, babies, friends, food, drink, laughter, tears, shenanigans, trees, fences, hills, valleys, screen doors, costume jewelry, drinking bird toys on windowsills, et cetera. Preferably the reminiscing is in the form of extended conversation, hoarseness afterwards indicating greatest success."
Last week's prompt
Last week's dispatch asked, What are you most thankful for lately?
Contrarian that I am, I typically balk at hip trends; but the resurgence of vinyl records lured me into regular hunting for crackling, popping audio curiosities that have lain sleeping on their sleeves waiting for me to waken them with the tickle of the needle. I love listening to music, and I'm ever thankful for being able to enjoy it, but lately it's the shiny black artifacts (that have brought me much bliss, that I'm willing to physically interact with when the record needs to be flipped) for which I'm most gratified.
Right now I am most thankful for simplicity and experience. Over the summer we moved to a new home. Coming from a pretty big home with a ton of storage space and being in that home for over 15 years, we had collected a lot of stuff. We donated over 4 truck loads of "stuff" to charity and various, cousins and family members. After we had gone through our house, my husband and I looked at each other and said, "Why do we hold on to all that stuff?" Going through all of this purging this past summer caused me to take time to pause to consider "stuff" and "things". I came to this conclusion, things are just things, while it's great to receive them, work hard to achieve them, save to purchase special things, in the end they are just things. They get tossed aside, broken, lost, or forgotten we've even had them. While I like to have mementos from important days in my life, what's more important is the experience. The experience is with you forever. It never gets lost, broken, or cast aside. So my husband, I and my daughter moved this summer with a lot less stuff and we couldn't be happier.
2012 has been a comfortable year for our family. At age 9 and almost 5, our kids are finally easy. No strollers. No diapers. No buckling them into car seats. They sleep well. They don’t get sick very often. It's a comfortable place. Then my wife and I had a moment :) And surprise! Today she is seven months pregnant. That means our life won't be comfortable much longer, and we are insanely thankful for that.
One of my favorite ways to give thanks is to cover our Thanksgiving table in brown paper, drop down boxes of crayons, and let everyone write, draw, compose a poem, write a Bible verse, or whatever they desire as they lift their thanks to our awesome God, of all creation, for the gifts He has given this past year. This week we will have much to be thankful for as we just welcomed our newest Grand Girl into the world, and we just found out we will enjoy another Grand come next July! I truly feel like the mom at the end of the movie, Raising Arizona where she is sitting at a table surrounded by more and more children, grands, and greats.
I am thankful for so many things, people and relationships. But right now, what stands out to me is how thankful I am that we have the ability to learn, grow, develop and change. This brings me great hope and joy...and for that, I am thankful!
A simple night at home. After long days of work and school, things can feel a little jangly as the clock tips toward evening. Sustenance is in order, for body and soul. The opening of mail, the chopping and stirring of dinner, the quiet presence of homework — the familiar brings a re-weaving of sorts. Unimportant details become important because they made up our day. We share stories and laughter, frustrations and solace, the comfort of easy movement, nearness and warmth. It’s nothing noteworthy, and yet it’s remarkably beautiful…these moments we call home.
I am most thankful for the people I love and the opportunities I enjoy. I am thankful especially for the opportunity to work with talented and passionate people on products of quality. I strive every day to be worthy of what I have and what I still hope to achieve. I like to give thanks by telling people that they are great, that their efforts matter and that I feel privileged to be living alongside them in this crazy world.
I find myself especially thankful for the gift of creativity. Being able to craft a unique expression of ourselves is so precious, and as I allow myself to rediscover this passion I'd lost, I find I'm rediscovering a lost part of myself. It's like taking a clean breath after having breathed smoke. It's refreshing and it's a relief.
For me, the list starts with my wife and son, who are both wonderful in usual and unusual ways, but who have also been unbelievably patient and helpful during the first few months of Uncommon, with late-night editing sessions and well-timed enthusiasm.
I'm also thankful for each of you. Your creativity and kindness are amazing. There is nothing like good people enjoying the uncommon in one another.
News and such
This week, we'll debut the Tangibly Uncommon page on the site at last. If you asked us to save one of the 100 founding member spots for you, look for an email in your inbox very soon! If there are still spots remaining, we'll include a link in next week's dispatch.
I have great news about the mailing. First, I am so excited to announce that the package will include A Preface for a Community, a new piece written by Jack Cheng. Jack has been a friend of and inspiration for Uncommon since I first came across The Slow Web. Second, each of the 100 beautiful prints by @etherbrian will be signed and numbered, which will make them a little more special.
Bottle It Up by Roxanne Krystalli:
On the best ordinary days, little that happens is other-worldly. On the best ordinary days, the little things line up photogenically to remind us of what it is that makes us come alive.
Recently, I finished Peter Block's Community: The Structure of Belonging. Though not specifically about online communities, I found the book interesting and inspiring. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
- To belong to a community is to act as a creator and co-owner of that community. What I consider mine I will build and nurture. The work, then, is to seek in our communities a wider and deeper sense of emotional ownership; it means fostering among all of a community’s citizens a sense of ownership and accountability.
- The cost of our detachment and disconnection is not only our isolation, our loneliness, but also the fact that there are too many people in our communities whose gifts remain on the margin.
- This question of what we can create together is at the intersection of possibility and accountability.
- Questions create the space for something new to emerge.
What is your absolutely favorite holiday recording? Let's create an Uncommon playlist! Whatever you choose, though, it can't be better than this :)