Suzanne Tobias

Be grateful for the little things, too

A Thanksgiving column about gratitude is almost too easy, isn't it? So that will be the first item on my list: Easy columns.

Unfortunately, gratitude doesn't always come easy for me or, I assume, other parents caught amid the laundry piles, temper tantrums, flu bugs and daily chaos of raising children.

It's easy to complain. Easy to gripe because your daughter is sassy or your son hasn't learned that "pick up your toys" means actually putting them somewhere other than the living room floor, where you just stepped on a Lego for the 823rd time.

Or maybe that's just me.

My friend and colleague Karen Shideler has spent the past month reflecting on her blessings and posting one each day on Twitter. They have included sweaters, Post-It notes, cinnamon, Canada geese and second chances.

She focused on details. "The big ones are easy," Karen explained. "We're all grateful for family, friends, world peace and chocolate (not necessarily in that order).

"I wanted to include some little things that I normally wouldn't think of. ... It's made me more aware of how much I do have to be grateful for."

I'm thankful for her list, which inspired my own. Perhaps ours will inspire yours? Some little things I'm thankful for today:

* OxiClean, which really does get out chocolate, cranberry sauce and red wine (not necessarily in that order).

* My new favorite show, "Glee," and the fact that my husband watches it with me even though he knows I will spend the next several days randomly bursting into song.

* Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other technologies that make it easy to keep in touch with friends and meet new, interesting people.

* Mac and cheese, ravioli, chicken nuggets and other easy dinners I normally don't admit making.

* Rotisserie chickens, pizza and Chinese takeout, for those other nights.

* Inside jokes.

* Fireplaces.

* Connect Four.

* Escalators and other cheap thrills. Jack, my 9-year-old, still loves to ride them as long as I'll let him.

* Middle school homework. If it weren't for my daughter's, I wouldn't know about such awesome blessings as YouTube math tutorials and

* The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, which has brought untold joy to my family and millions of others.

* And Mommy mentors — friends with children older than mine who continue to provide advice and reassurance whenever motherhood leaves me gasping for breath.

Karen is one such mentor. Her recipe for sweet-and-sour sausage and veggies is a staple at our house. And her recent tweet about Popcorn Night (popcorn for dinner the day of the annual Boy Scout Popcorn Blitz!) will no doubt become a Tobias tradition as well.

I guess blessings multiply the more you notice them.