My niece Amy hired my daughter to paint faces at her son's birthday party; Seth was turning the big 0-4. Melissa is excellent with kids and proficient in the cheek painting arts, so she happily accepted.
We arrived for the party early enough to help with preparations. My hot dog and bun assembly skills earned me a promotion to duck pond supervisor. I sat beside a small swimming pool and coaxed the tiny party guests to pick a plastic duck and win prize tokens. Because the youngest guests were more enamored of the colorful ducks than the shiny tokens, I also spent some time extracting pilfered ducks from the sticky grip of toddlers.
When Melissa and I took a break we watched the children careen around the room, buzzed up on cake, a miniature bounce house, and a visit from a clown.
"Do you wish I was still little?" Melissa asked.
"Nope," I quickly replied, watching two barefoot little boys attempt to shove their socks in each other's faces.
"No" was my impulse answer. The real answer is more complicated.
I don't know a mom alive who doesn't carry a tender ache of longing for the days when her kids were small enough to fit on her lap. The good news is, most of those warm bundles of energy grow up to be pretty cool adults.
And as we approach Thanksgiving, the official day of gratitude, my own cool adult kids top my list of what I'm thankful for.
There's more, of course.
I'm thankful that my furnace has stopped making an unholy metallic racket, a sound like aluminum fingers scraping a steel chalkboard. Last year the furnace only hummed on occasion - usually on the occasion of my trying to get a decent night's sleep.
This year, the steely caterwauling was almost constant before it finally, mysteriously, ceased. My innards still cringe at the click of the thermostat, but as of this writing it's been three weeks of buzzless bliss. You bet I'm grateful, especially at 2 a.m.
I'm grateful that it's bathtub season. The shorter days and chillier temperatures make a nightly soak in my big clawfoot tub practically mandatory. The hot steamy water and sweet, comforting scent of Ivory soap are more than a luxury, they're positively medicinal.
I'm thankful the elections - and the election commercials - are over
I'm thankful that none of the new fall T.V. shows interest me. Leaves me more free time at night.
Along with a few million other fans, I'm thankful that Phil Collins decided to un-retire and record a collection of his favorite Motown classics, pouring his heart and soul into every note.
I am super grateful to the automotive gods for the fact that my four-door, six-cylinder, all wheel drive headache hasn't broken down or required any major repair work for almost a year.
Let's all be thankful that we live in the U.P. Crime is relatively low, most of us live among good neighbors and try to be one ourselves, and, despite the grumbling, we can find something to appreciate in each of the four distinct seasons our region is blessed with.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And try to keep gratitude at the front of your mind long after you've enjoyed the last of those turkey leftovers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.