It’s November and Thanksgiving is only weeks away. Magazines, talk shows, and blogs are about to be filled with people eloquently sharing what means the most to them and their lives this holiday season.
Because the bulk of my writing is about my family, some people will assume that they are what comes to mind whenever I think about the things I’m grateful for. But they would be wrong.
Yes. I’m eternally thankful for my husband and children and love them to pieces. But there is something much more fundamental to life. The thing I’m most grateful for is… lipstick.
Is that odd? Yes.
Am I shallow to value lipstick so highly? Perhaps.
But my mind has always worked a little bit differently. I blame my dyslexia, although it’s equally possible that my sister’s explanation that I’m from another planet is true. The words and phrases that come out of my mouth have been known to confuse the heck out of people.
There was the time our oldest child, Tom, was still a toddler. We were at my parents’ house for dinner with my sisters and their husbands. I was in the kitchen getting something when I noticed in the corner of my eye that Tom had crawled onto a chair and was about to fall backwards.
I did not call out Tom’s name, “Help!” “Stop!” or any other word that most people would have used in the same situation.
I cried out, “Chernobyl.”
Thankfully my brother-in-law, also named Tom, was right next to my son and grabbed him in the nick of time.
As I was holding my baby and calming us both down, my brother-in-law asked me why in the world did I call out Chernobyl?”
“I don’t know. Standing there all I could think of was that Tom’s falling would be a disaster.”
“And your mind went to the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl?”
After fifty years on this planet I’ve grown accustomed to my thought process, but I’ve never really been thrilled with how my mind pulls odd things together to make sense of the world around me.
That was until I started this blog five years ago.
As I construct the intricacies of my thoughts into essays each week, I’ve found the benefit of thinking outside the box.
For me, lipstick is something I’m very grateful for. Whether it’s an expensive tube that feels luxurious and is packaged beautifully or a little lip gloss I picked up at the dollar store, few things can lift my spirits so much.
Pink, brown, red, or even the black lipstick I had to buy the year I turned 30, all make me feel a bit better about myself.
Those few minutes in front of the mirror are sometimes the only ones I take just for me. But, what I enjoy the most about my lipstick is how it ends up on the faces of the people I love the most.
Barely a day goes by that I’m not rubbing it off the cheek of our youngest, Peter, as I put him on the bus each day as we giggle and say our goodbyes.
Or, the “lipstick” kisses, Lizzy and I share each day. I give her a light kiss on the lips and then she admires how beautiful she looks with a little bit of color on her face. Even on her worst days, I can count on her smiling at that moment.
Tom, now a high school junior and five inches taller than me, has learned to avoid any chance of my lipstick getting on him by kissing me on my head as he leaves for the bus each morning. No matter how harried I am in the morning, my husband never fails to make me laugh when he asks,“Is it my shade?” whenever my lipstick gets on him.
I’ve spent so many years being frustrated and embarrassed at just how different my mind works. But now I find myself grateful for my ability to connect the smallest things in my life, like my love of lipstick, to the people in my life that mean the most.
* This piece is a re-working of an essay that ran on the Dishwasher, 11/13/13, under the title, Thanks with a Twist.