Giving Thanks for the Little Things

Which conveniences are the unsung heroes of your daily life?

Miles run yesterday: 5

Pies made for Thanksgiving: 4

Hugs given and received: 52

Hopefully, my family and friends realize how much they mean to me. I thought I would focus my post-Thanksgiving post on the modern conveniences I didn’t know I needed… until I did.

1. Remote keyless entry for my car. What a ridiculous concept! Are keys really so difficult to turn? I have an idea: let’s take something that’s super-easy and make it even easier!

At least, that’s what I thought until we got our minivan 11 years ago. And then, while balancing a baby seat on one arm and a reluctant 2-year-old on the other, rushing through the pouring rain, a push of a button to open the car door didn’t seem so ridiculous anymore. Thank you, remote key fob. You are a tiny bit of sanity in a crazy world.

2. Functional car door handles. While we’re on the subject of cars, I wanted to urge you to enjoy your door handles for as long as they last.  We have had two of the four break or otherwise throw in the towel, and the absence of door handles can really make you appreciate the non-pretzel-like way you used to enter the car. My husband has spent way, way too many hours fixing and re-fixing ours. And he can’t get those hours back, my friends.

3. Word processing. Let’s get serious here: how (much more) wacky would writers be if we were all forced to re-type pages on an old typewriter?

4. Can openers. Have you ever been alone in your house and found that your can opener will not open a can of tomato sauce? It is not a happy time. It is a time of bad language and misusing other, inappropriate tools to try to get the job done. It is a time of not having tomato sauce in your life. O, Rare Functional Can Opener, you are a ray of light in the darkness.

5. Floors. Stay with me here. I asked my son, “What other little conveniences do you not appreciate until they’re gone?” And he said, “Floors.”

We had a period of a few months; The Dark Months, you may call them, when my husband had stripped our downstairs floors and prepared them for hardwood. These were dark times indeed. Dark and, er, loud. You would not believe the acoustics in a home with no floors and no furniture. When the kids practiced piano, I imagined that I was sitting in the audience at Carnegie Hall.

6. Thumbs. Scientists may have mentioned this before, but opposable thumbs really are all they’re cracked up to be. Try injuring one and then trying to do basic, daily life stuff without it. Thumbs aren’t sexy, but I am very thankful for mine.

7. Sunglasses. Ever since my grandmother told me I looked ugly when I squinted in the sun, I’ve made it a point to wear sunglasses. Someday, maybe when I’m 83, I will be very glad I did.

8. Tape measures. When my mom gave me a pretty tape measure to put in my purse a few years ago, I thought I might use it once or twice. You would not believe how often I whip that thing out to measure my kids’ waists for costumes, shelving at Lowe’s Home Improvement and the height of a mailbox.

9. Swiss Army knives. My son decided I needed a Swiss Army knife a couple of years ago. I wasn’t sure when I would use it. Since then, I’ve cut forgotten tags off clothes, filed a pesky fingernail and sliced an errant string.

A week ago, you could find me in a school storage supply closet washing grapes and using my Swiss Army knife scissors to cut the mammoth grape cluster into reasonably-sized bunches. Bear Grylls I was not. But I went there in my mind, people. File my name under “resourceful.”

Which commonplace items are you most thankful for this holiday season?

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48 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for the Little Things

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m right with you on the remote keyless entry. While out of town this weekend, I’ve had to unlock my rental car the old-fashioned way. Didn’t realize how spoiled I’d gotten. 🙂

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    • annewoodman says:

      Thanks, Carrie. Gasp! You had to unlock a car door? You poor dear. ; )

      Hope you had a nice holiday, too. Now the downward slide towards Christmas!

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Yes, and it comes quickly.

        By the way, I just finished running on the treadmill at the hotel. It took every ounce of determination I had to make it to five miles. I just kept thinking of you and said to myself: “Anne can do it, so can you. Anne can do it, so can you…”

        Well, I might have cursed here and there as well, but I did reach my goal. See? You’re inspiring me from afar. 🙂

      • annewoodman says:

        Carrie, Whatever little way I could have inspired you is wonderful. If you saw me running, you might not be so inspired. I’m not exactly Usain Bolt. ; )

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Well, considering I probably look like a drunk Gumby when I run, I think you’ve got me beat.

  2. One of the first gifts I bought my wife was a Swiss Army knife. (The other was a Gore-Tex® raincoat.) When you can’t find a decent can opener, the one on the Swill Army knife works well.

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever used that. But I will someday; oh, yes, I will.

      I bet your wife thought she was in for some adventures with that gift. And you’ve certainly followed through! ; )

  3. I always thought I needed a Swiss army knife until I bought one. Now it is just something I occasionally open in order to marvel at the worst pair of scissors I have ever attempted to use. And, really, only a masochist would ever bother to try the saw.

    As an on-again/off-again insomniac, I am thankful for mushy pillows. I might not always fall asleep on ’em, but I’ll always go “Aah.”

    • annewoodman says:

      Ah, insomnia. The curse of the creative soul. ; ) If you have miraculous pillow information, please share it with the rest of us occasional insomniacs.

      I am betting that there will be a time when you use those Swiss Army knife scissors and thank the genius behind them. Perhaps you have never been so desperate. And may you never be so, my friend. ; )

  4. Very funny post! Every item you mentioned is so essential and mostly we barely notice them and often take them terribly for granted. We do this with so many things (and people) and your post is a good reminder to slow down and be appreciative! Thank you for this, Anne.

  5. Andria says:

    We do have so many things to be grateful for- thanks for sharing yours. My husband bought me a Swiss army knife about 30 years ago. I use it all the time. My complaint is that when I fly I remove it from my purse, (after getting one confiscated) and then forget to put it back it when I return, so today when I broke my fingernail out Christmas shopping, no Swiss army knife to the rescue.
    Over the years I’ve become more grateful for the people in my life- family, long time friends, and sometimes people that I just meet and see wonderful qualities in them. My little students at school bring me so much joy! How can you have a bad day when you get hugs, and big smiles?! I love our book club friends and look forward to getting together even if we didn’t enjoy the book.

    • annewoodman says:

      Me, too, Andria! I always enjoy book club. I’m sad I’ll have to miss Monday’s meeting–my folks will still be in town.

      I think you do an amazing job of seeing the good in others. It’s one of your best qualities.

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    Eleven years with keyless entry? No wonder you picked up on that act of Madeleine’s! Our 2011 Sonata is the FIRST car we’ve had that’s keyless. 🙂 But it is so handy. While you might expect an archaeologist to carry a Swiss Army knife, I don’t. But there are times I wish I had one. And sunglasses probably help keep those laugh lines at bay, at least a little while longer.

    Central heating and A/C are high on my list. They’ve probably made me a total weather wimp, but I can’t imagine going without them for long. 🙂

  7. robincoyle says:

    Don’t tell my husband I am calling him “commonplace,” but . . . how handy that he is tall. He can reach things off high shelves for me. He can also open stubborn pickle jars. That is why I married him.

  8. Floors is my absolute favourite!!
    I have to say that I am loving my hot water bottle at the moment. God, that makes me sound like such a granny, but there you are.
    And another absolutely stunning picture – those colours!

    • That is so funny Gabriela, but I swear to you, I was scrolling down here to comment about how much I love my hot water bottle with the fluffy cover! In the winter, when it’s cold, I just love it, and I don’t care how granny it is!

      I’m also quite grateful for my bottle opener, hehe.

      • Oh yeah – you expect me to believe that and not the truth, which is that you’re simply stalking me and trying to steal all my ideas. (Slightly jealous that yours has a fluffy cover – mine is rubber and leaves a funny smell on my hands…)

      • annewoodman says:

        Wow! Again, I’m unsure why the hot water bottle didn’t make the transatlantic journey. Or maybe it’s because I live in the South, where it’s not supposed to be cold for very long?? But it does get cold! And boots just don’t work at night, while lying in bed. Sigh.

    • annewoodman says:

      My husband always had a hot water bottle while he was growing up! I don’t know why people here don’t still use them. I don’t think you’re a granny sort… just very smart about creature comforts, apparently.

  9. Daryl says:

    There is one tool in my garage (not me) that I cannot live without—channel locks. They undo all stubborn nuts (again, not me), they are the perfect persuasion tool to coerce things that are stuck on unwanted things. They can yank nails through wood, remove broken drill bits from foundations, retard unwanted hose spray, coax forms back to their original shape, and arrest faucets from dripping. If I only remembered were I put the bloody things!

    • annewoodman says:

      I am completely unable to conjure up a visual on these things. Are you telling me we have these in “our” garage? Really? Your most important convenience, and if you asked me to get them for you, I wouldn’t even know what they were? I’m not sure I even know who you are anymore. Are you the same guy who fixed my door handles?? Did you use channel locks?

      I’m hoping you’re the same person who promised me you’d take me to see Skyfall next week.

      • Daryl says:

        They are the blue handled things with blood on the tip–another story. As for the door handle, no, I used a screwdriver and about 1.5 ozs of flesh from my thumb and forefinger–Oh, and a can of paint. As for Skyfall, I will take you next week. I will be wearing my Bond coat. Dress appropriately.

      • annewoodman says:

        Don’t worry–there will be boots involved.

  10. An empty bathroom where I can hide from the kids for at least 4 and a half minutes.

  11. 4amWriter says:

    Right there with you on thumbs. In a three-week span, I slammed each of my thumbs in car doors, thereby rendering them useless while they healed. There was a lot of take-out, and plastic bags during showers and housecleaning. I love thumbs.

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  12. E says:

    I am thankful for wine. Especially during the holidays!

  13. This is, like, the best list ever. As in, I fist pumped every item and nodded violently in agreement. Floors! Yes, FLOORS!! Which makes me thankful for the interwebs. Because I wouldn’t have found your list otherwise…

  14. Amy Mak says:

    So true! After having babies I realized the pure genius of having doors I didn’t actually have to pull open. Alas, everything seems to be breaking and I consider having another child just for another shower with new stuff 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving – I love your list!

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh, girl, everything is breaking here in my world, too. Every single door in the house and car seems to be on the fritz. Do they give new doors to expecting moms? I hadn’t heard of this tradition. ; )

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Amy.

  15. The list can be very long but a few are: Slip on shoes, electric screwdrivers, wireless mice, certified electricians!!!, and a good book to read.

  16. Drywall screws, duct tape and pwered leaf blowers.

    • annewoodman says:

      I really resisted the leaf blower–they’re sooooo loud! But they’re also such a major time saver. Five minutes of leaf blowing can replace 30 minutes of sweeping. It’s crazy.

  17. David Gentry says:

    Enjoyable and funny — as usual.
    When I want an emotional lift, I read one of your posts. I am ALWAYS glad to get an email notification of one. I can look forward to something fun.

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