Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feeling the joy in the world

Yesterday was just one of those days I felt happy. I looked at everything around me and felt good about the world and about where I am. My hubby is on vacation this week. It's nice to have him at home. Things are more relaxed and mellow. I didn't plan any travel this week. We're just hanging around the house catching up on stuff.

I got up yesterday to get two of the boys to their summer classes. We had one extra kid here who had spent the night. He was asleep in a sleeping bag on the living room floor. The dog was walking around him. We were clinking dishes around in the kitchen. He didn't move. Don't you wish you could sleep that soundly? LOL! Got me thinking how my boys have such nice friends. The night before, my 17-year-old's friend stopped by. I was scrambling to get an article in for deadline and asked my oldest son to throw some hot dogs on the grill. He's never really thrilled about cooking. His friend took over and stood at the grill making hot dogs and hamburgers and then served them to my younger kids.

Later in the morning I knew I had to run some errands. One was grocery shopping. It's a chore I really enjoyed when we were first married. Now, not so much. So, off I went with my list and my recycled grocery bags. I got way more than what was on my list. I spent way more than I planned. That always happens. It is kind of funny to see people's eyes pop out of their heads at the sight of my overflowing cart. Then when I tell them I have five growing boys at home, they understand.

Yesterday, I got to the check-out line to see only one lane open. I always feel bad for the people in line behind me. I had been chatting with one lady in the frozen food. She got behind me with her four items. I waved her around me. Then I saw a little girl from my kids' school and talked to her for a minute. Her mom doesn't speak English so the little girl translated. I told her to go around me in line. Her mom also had three other little girls with her. I remember the days of standing in line at the grocery store and trying to keep your young kids quiet.

These days I usually go solo when I shop for groceries just so I can concentrate on my list and my coupons and avoid the whole "Mom, can I get these cookies?" "Mom, will you buy cupcakes?" "Mom, can I get a matchbox car?" I do let my "helper" pick one item as we shop. It can be doughnuts or a candy bar or pack of markers. It's their choice, but they have to help put the groceries up on the conveyor and carry them into the house to earn their prize.

So, back to my trip to the store. The next guy to get in line behind me was a middle-aged guy with nothing but a gallon of milk. I told him to go around. He tried to be polite and decline, but I could tell he was thinking "I'll be here for an hour to get a gallon of milk if I don't step ahead." I insisted he go first.

After he went around, I started to empty my cart. Up behind me came an elderly lady with about a dozen things in her cart. I apologized for the huge cart full I had. "It's okay, honey," she replied. "I'm not in a hurry." Then she started pulling things out of my cart and putting them up on the counter. I thought it was incredibly sweet. She talked as she helped me unload my items -- about how teenage boys eat, about the price of groceries, about how good the blueberries looked. When we were done with my cart, we unloaded hers together. I get goosebumps thinking about it. People can be so kind. Sometimes we see lots of the bad stuff in humanity, but little moments like the ones with the old lady in the grocery store just make me smile and think about how good it all is.

I was shopping at Aldi, where you have to bag everything yourself and she offered to help me bag up my groceries, too. I thanked her, but told her I was fine. It feels good to connect with another person, especially someone as sweet as her - even if it's just for five minutes in the line at the grocery store.

Then as I was bagging another lady set her stuff out on the counter. I apologized for taking up so much room. She looked at me and asked if I was "the lady from the paper." I told her I do write for the local paper. I have to admit, I still get kind of giddy inside when people recognize me from the paper -- although the photo of me that they print is AWFUL. Then again, I always hate my pictures and probably wouldn't approve of any snapshot. It's nice to hear people tell me that they read my columns and articles and enjoy them -- except the guy who once told me "I read your stuff in the paper." To which I replied, "Oh, thank you." To which he replied "I just said I read it. I didn't say I liked it." He said it with a straight face. No sign that he might be joking. I was a little crushed. I always heed my mothers words that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I guess his mother didn't teach him that. Here it is probably five years later and that still bothers me. Oh, well. The lady and I chatted. She moaned a little about being a stay-at-home mom and how much work it is. I sympathized.

So, I left the store feeling happy. Just happy about encountering such nice people. The afternoon was spent at home with the kids and doing a little work. The kids played with the sprinkler. We ate ice cream. Just a leisurely afternoon. That evening I decided to go to church. It's been a while since I was there. I've been working a lot of Sundays. And I ran into the pastor last week while I was running errands. I told him I'd been working a lot of Sundays. He reminded me about the Wednesday evening service. 

I decided to head out for the Wednesday service, stopping on the way at the local farmer's market for my favorite bread. The service was a repeat of last Sunday, which was on July 3, so it had a patriotic theme. Patriotic music can reduce me to a sobbing, sentimental mess in no time. We opened by standing and singing the Star Spangled Banner followed by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It felt a little weird. Most often I'm singing the Star Spangled Banner at a ballgame and reciting the pledge in a classroom. I kept my composure, but did have to wipe my eyes a couple times. In the sermon, the pastor talked about our troops. His son has done at least two tours overseas, most recently in Afghanistan. I thought about all the troops who weren't celebrating the holiday with their loved ones. We later sang America the Beautiful and ended with God Bless America. It was uplifting ending to a joyful day.

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