Gifts & Graces: January 2022

Gifts & Graces

Here’s my random gratitude collection of mostly small but sometimes large things that helped to make January better.

Flannel sheets and silk pillowcase. I absolutely cannot sleep unless I’m warm. But as I’ve aged, my thermal comfort range has shrunk to a few measly degrees. So I have to be warm, but not too warm. The perfect combination for me is flannel sheets and a silk pillowcase. I love the warmth and weight of the flannel sheets, and the silk pillowcase keeps my head from over-heating. (The pillowcase supposedly also keeps my face from wrinkling and my hair from becoming an unrecoverable mess.)

Candles when the sun goes down. Early sunsets are difficult for me. I have to be coaxed to leave the house in the evenings even in balmy summer weather. But darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon just makes me give up on doing anything productive. But I have re-discovered candles! Candles while eating dinner on an ordinary weeknight. Candles on the weekend while watching football. Any time it gets dark, I now light a candle and it makes me feel better. I’m still not going out for any evening activities, but now I feel cozy in my house and vaguely indulgent like I’m on retreat or at the spa.

Conversations with strangers. I have become a person who talks to strangers. This greatly surprises me, since I am an introvert who doesn’t typically enjoy superficial chatting. But as this pandemic lingers on, I find joy in short conversations with our mail carrier, with the woman behind the deli counter at the grocery store, with the person in front of me in the line at the bank. These conversations are concrete evidence that people are generally kind, that everyone is just trying to carry on with their life as the pandemic seems to continue indefinitely, and that we are all connected by simple things such as junk mail and electric bills, sliced Swiss cheese, and shared complaints about the weather.

A sunny day after a blizzard. There’s something about a bright, sunny day after a major snowstorm that just takes my breath away. The sidewalk shoveling and car scraping is done. Today I just get to appreciate how the snow sparkles like a wildly enthusiastic, glitter-encrusted Christmas card. Ice crunches underfoot and forces me to pay attention to where I put my feet. The birds are out, making up for lost time during the storm and reprimanding me for the empty bird feeder. All of this is a lesson, one which I can’t ignore, about being mindfully present to the beauty of God’s creation.

A closing prayer

Dear God, please help me pay attention to the many gifts and graces that you bring to my life. Let me gratefully acknowledge the people and things that fill my days with joys that range from small comforts to immense love. And thank you, God, for being with me each day. I am humbled and inspired by how Your Spirit works through the actions of so many people. Amen.


  1. Beautifully written. Again. Still. Knowing you as well as I do, I was able (and will not post) to think of other things that bring comfort and joy to you. I also laughed (chuckling now) at some of your words — that fine line between being cozy vs swaddled in bed, the point at which small talk transitions from friendly chit-chat to a desperate need to quickly escape, and finally, after 50 years of friendship, learning that it’s the silk sheets that have kept your face wrinkle-free. Hello Amazon.

    You have such a gift. And are such a blessing — daily, monthly, yearly. Keep writing and sharing.


    1. Yes, you know me well enough to come up with a large additional list of things that I love! And definitely check out the silk pillow cases. I can’t guarantee any long term anti-wrinkle results, but at least I don’t wake up with big pillow creases on my face anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, have recently started talking to strangers which is still an amazing new thing. Your dad was much more of an extrovert than I. I am encouraged to continue this practice by the willingness of strangers to talk about their pet, the weather or of whatever direction the interaction leads to. I particularly enjoyed your description of the snow after a storm. A particularly apt use of several adjectives which would not have come to my mind.


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