Counting blessings large and small

It’s at hand: the day in 2012 when we take care of this year’s thanks.

We first give thanks for the Bair Paws socks given patients at Willamette Valley Medical Center. Bair Paws are cushy, cuddly, knit warmers that nurses slip on your cold feet as they tuck you in bed. They snug up around ankles to keep them warm. Always, I take my Bair Paws home. I prefer them to my nice bedroom slippers. Bair Paws don’t come off your feet. I don’t walk out of them as I do most bedroom slippers. And they have non-skid pads that resemble bear tracks and prevent slipping.

We give thanks for walks. Any day with time for a walk is a good day. If on a walk you meet a friendly dog who likes being petted, it’s a super fine day.

Next, thanks to Shirley Bernards for her suggestion as to how to use earrings that end up as singles. Shirley once worked in a jewelry store, where she learned to identify precious metals. Later, when she volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul, she then was able to recognize donations of jewelry or single earrings that might be valuable.

“Even a little handful of broken gold chains or a single gold earring could be sold to a reputable dealer to help support St. Vincent De Paul,” she said.

We give thanks for “medical knowledge” that apparently has successfully eliminated growing pains that were quite common in the past. The 1909 White House Cook Book notes that the “writhing pedal extremities often suffered by young children, often routed parents night after night from warm quarters in the dead of winter, to kindle fires and fill frosty kettles from water-pails thickly crusted with ice. ... The affected extremities of the hurting child were then placed in the tub of water.” This venerable Cook Book offered an improved remedy: “Simply wring a towel from salt water — from a bowl left standing in the sleeping room — wrap the limb in it from ankle to knee without taking the child from bed, and swathe with dry flannels.” The Cook Book promises, “Relief is sure.”

We give thanks for laughter — and nowadays we are advised that laughter helps keep us well. So thanks to Kit Nelson for her ready smile and laughter — although it is difficult to understand how in such quantity they could emanate from such a petite being.

We should remember, too, that those who do not fish for compliments should be thanked because those who do seldom end up with a prize catch.

More thanks, now: I give thanks to people who like mince pie. I love mince pie. I am the only one in our family who dotes on it, the others preferring pecan and pumpkin. I therefore make all three. But only I eat the mince, and partake liberally of the others also, and sometimes I am unable to eat the entire mince pie. Thus, my thanks to others who like mince — such as Joyce and Carroll Soles. When I now make a mince pie and have a surplus, I know where I can take it.

And remind me to be thankful for the little things we often take for granted, such as threading a needle on the first try. As with print, the eye of the needle is getting smaller. Thanks, too, for the duplicate car keys I find in the secret zipper compartment of my purse when I am ready to call a locksmith. Thanks, when in the middle of making the annual Christmas springerle, I remember I didn’t check my egg supply but, thankfully, discover I have exactly the right number on hand so I do not have to interrupt my mixing to rush to the grocery. Thanks for the bank statements that cooperate with reconciliation on the first go-round. Ever so many thanks for the pass interference call against the Oregon Ducks in a crucial fourth-quarter play that was negated “after further review.”

We give thanks to McMinnville’s deciduous trees that annually don their flamboyant dress of cerise, orange and gold, then discard them for drab winter attire, only to patiently begin the process all over again.

Thanks to Donna Gray who walks with grace and admirable upright carriage. She’s added to the list of those cited in past years such as Nylah Chilton, Carolyn Tomlinson and Deanie Boatman, as I tell myself again: “Hold shoulders back. Hold stomach in. Stand up straight.”

And surely in 2012, we should give thanks to those whose heads are properly screwed on. Those whose heads are not properly attached easily become lost, know not where they are going and end up elsewhere.

Endless thanks to computer gurus such as Donna Farley — that Ph.D. holder who retrieved from my computer the electronic bookings for my recent flights and reassured me when I was certain those pieces of paper could not possibly guarantee my being a passenger on that plane.

Let us remember, too, to give thanks for today’s anesthetics that permit one to “sleep” during surgeries and other unpleasant procedures. How dreadful to read of casualties during the Civil War, when a combatant’s leg might have to be amputated without benefit of anesthetic.

We give thanks to Mary Vinton Folberg, daughter of longtime McMinnvillans Gale (now deceased) and Saima Vinton. Mary, to the best of my knowledge, is the only Miss Yamhill County to become a Miss Oregon. Now living in the Portland area, word comes from Mary that Saima, now 104, is well and happy in her new home.

And I would be remiss in not giving thanks for hot showers — so hot I scarcely can stand them, but there I stand, lengthily, in that soothing-spray massage — in a heated bathroom — and thank McMinnville Water & Light while grieving for Sandy victims.

Thanks to those who added to Old McMinnville memories, such as Susan, whom we knew as Susan Greenlund. She reminded us that her dad, Clarence, started Greenlund Motors in the l920s and that A.A. Anderson was McMinnville’s Chevrolet dealer who sold collectible 1950 models.

And thanks to Barbara Eborall and her reminder that Clifford Elliott had taught music at McMinnville High and that she and Jim Cline had been yell leaders in the eighth grade at McMinnville Junior High. She remembered, too, Mr. Hartzell at Miller’s Department Store (later site of 1893), who measured and cut lengths of material from bolts for dresses for McMinnville’s womenfolk.

Finally, in 2012, thanks to God, family, friends and America. Thanks to the mamas who still wear aprons, to the dads who still carry pocket knives and to kids who beg for bedtime stories.

And on Thanksgiving Day, could we also give thanks for mince pies, while keeping in mind that it would behoove us to remember our thanks every day of the year.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at rohse5257@comcast.net.

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