No, it’s not Mother’s Day.
It’s not Valentine’s Day either — that was almost five months and 50 degrees ago.
Your birthday was in April and our anniversary isn’t until September.
No, you’re not dying. Nor am I dying; at least I hope not. Though there were certainly a few days last week when my gout-riddled bigtoe felt like it was dragging me across the veil.
No, I’m not writing from the guilt zipcode or feeling like I need to apologize for some significant indiscretion.
Well, there was that one afternoon recently when I left a Sharpie in my jeans pocket that created some permanent designs on my clothes in the washer, but I think we scrubbed that issue pretty well. You were, as always, understanding and forgiving of my knuckleheadedness.
I guess that’s just the thing. There is no calendared, check-the-box reason for this note. There’s just the image I left the house with this morning, tucked like a photo in my clean shirt pocket.
There you were, standing in rain boots saying goodbye and holding one of your all-natural homebrews for spraying the garden. You were covered in morning dew and I realized that you were up before me, as usual.
Sweating under the summer sun before me, as usual.
And there I was, taking you for granted, as usual.
Driving away, I recognized that I shouldn’t need an alert on my phone to remind me to express how grateful I am for all you do. A random Tuesday is reason enough.
Fine, so maybe I do have a confession.
I fear I’ve fallen asleep on the comfortable couch of ingratitude. It’s an attitude some men wear like an old college sweatshirt they refuse to throw away.
Then, several times a year on those television ad holidays, I throw money at flowers and the expensive card. If you’re lucky, I’ll tackle some dishes, make the bed and handle dinner. If you’re really fortunate, I’ll do all three. (Please hold your applause.)
But gratitude isn’t a holiday, is it? It’s not an emotion nor a routine. It’s definitely not some 7-step self-help program designed to improve our relationships.
It ought to be who we simply … are.
We are grateful eyes, grateful hands, grateful words coming from grateful lips and a grateful heart. But it’s not just the heart, it’s the very blood that pumps through it and gives us life.
I think gratitude is the recognition that everything and everyone we have comes from God. And every little bit of it is on loan to help us do His work and to find our way home to Him.
But without gratitude, without you, there is no home.
Eyes open or closed, wide awake or snoring at your side, I can’t imagine a home in this world or the next that doesn’t have you in it.
I don’t say it or live it enough: I’m grateful for the sacrifices you offer for my career. They’re more immense than I understand. Frankly, even if I could, I’m not sure I’d have the words to articulate what they mean.
I’m grateful that you love God more than me. I don’t think I’ve always understood that, but I’ve learned that I never have to wonder whom you’d choose — because your life and choices don’t point to me. They point to Him.
I’m grateful for the way you teach our children to work, to love, to serve, to read, to lead, to follow, to pray.
But I’m not grateful for you, your gift or your influence because it’s your birthday. I don’t love you because it’s our anniversary. I don’t cherish you because an annual tradition reminds me I should.
I want to do all those things — and do them better — because it’s just another Tuesday.