giving thanks

in 2010 i started a new tradition. during the year i keep a list of all of the folks who have helped me somehow, then in november i send thanksgiving cards to the people on my list. i made a digital story about it.

this year there were 217 people and organizations on my list. it wasn’t financially possible to send a card to every one of them, so i had to whittle the list down to 150 (149 – i kept one card for myself). the act of revising the list was itself an exercise in gratitude, and fortunately i feel pretty confident that i’ve thanked the people who were on the original list but won’t be getting a card from me. i found a card i liked at tiny prints. i looked through my pictures from the last year and came up with 4 that were pretty representative of the year i had. i’ve been able to put more of my energy into living my life instead of into recovery, regaining things i’d lost. so the pictures are from some experiences with friends and family. well, i’ll show you.

what do we have here?

top left – with molly and zari at zari’s graduation from willamette university. zari has been my friend since she was in preschool, which means that i’ve known molly since they buddied-up around middle school. two very awesome ladies.

top right – kristin and i eating lunch in montrose, a haunt from our elementary school days. the picture was taken by my friend sandy from high school. it was the first time those streams had crossed (there is nothing dirty about that sentence, so knock it off). before that week, kristin and i hadn’t seen each other in about 25 years.

bottom left – me with emily. we’d just ridden the ohsu tram in portland – my first time. it was a lovely day with amazing views of mount hood and mount st. helens. the picture was taken by my cousin mark. he was visiting from arizona. also off-camera is mark’s friend k.c. – they had a thanks-to-facebook reunion that day.

bottom right – me with my grandma betty. my friend lisa took this picture at tumorfest. that’s the lovely brick wall that i see when i look out my kitchen window.

i’ve been having a flare-up of my neurological symptoms, which has significantly shortened my self-propelled travel radius. so much of the last few weeks have been spent at home in my apartment. not being easily able to go out turned out to be a silver lining. i’ve spent an hour or so each morning writing notes on the back of each of the 149 cards.

one day i was feeling well enough to walk down the block for a pumpkin spice latte and pecan pie while i wrote some notes.

my spirits were lifted each day when i thought about all of the wonderful things, big and small, that these folks bring to my life. it also gave me time to do some math. look – i even made a chart!

here’s some geography for you. there were 6 international cards (2 to greece, 1 each to morocco, india, australia and good ol’ canada) and 4 hand-delivered. i could have hand-delivered more of them, but i think that getting mail is fun. plus i’m trying to single-handedly (bob dole refuses to help) save the united states post office.

here are some more numbers from operation giving thanks 2011:

# of times i cursed in a note – 2, i think. both were pretty mild.

# of envelopes short – 1

# of stamps licked – 0. i don’t miss the taste of stamps one bit.

# of duplicates – 1 that i noticed. and the winner is ms. juliet carter.

juliet, me, kermit. in northern greece on AFS in 1990.

 in honor of juliet, # of cards to people i know from my summer in greece – 5

# of cards to people who are or were once my neighbors – 8

# of cards to people who are relatives of mine – 9

# of times i wrote the word “kriste” – 298

# of cards to people who have their writing tattooed on me – 3

# of cards to people who have tattooed me – 1

# of cards returned to sender – 2

# of cards to friends from when i was in elementary school – 5

# of cards to people/organizations i met directly because of tumorfest – 16

when i look at the list i’m reminded of the promise i made to myself when my medical drama happened. 10 years later i wanted to look back and be thankful that i had the brain tumor. i’m coming up on 2.5 years. a quarter of the way there – wow. and so many of the folks i wrote notes to are in my life because of that brain tumor – directly and indirectly (facebook. i’m looking at you.).

i highly recommend writing thanksgiving cards. the holiday season has never been a favorite of mine, but taking this gratitude inventory this time of year just might change that.

time to start my list for 2012.

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10 responses to “giving thanks

  1. Loved receiving a T-day card, loved knowing who is on your T-day card, and LOVED the T-day card statistics!!! Thankful for you, Miss Kriste.

  2. You rule, Kriste. I love you to pieces.

  3. Starting my Thanksgiving Day reading your post (haven’t watched the digital story yet because I don’t want to wake Zari). I am thankful for your friendship and look forward to seeing you!

  4. I smiled ear-to-ear reading this post. As a lucky recipient of one of your Thanksgiving cards, I completely agree that receiving mail is fun! When it came in the mail, I really felt special. And I even commented to my husband how much I loved the idea. I don’t care much for holidays. I confess I only sent out xmas cards because it’s an excuse to show off pics of my kid. But Thanksgiving cards to those you’re grateful for feels like a much more significant gesture. Reading this blog post makes me feel even more special for having received one 🙂 I think I’d like to do this next year too.

    • doing those cards has changed my attitude about this time of year. if you put pics of your cute kid on a thanksgiving card, they stand out more. i hope i make your list!

  5. Thanks for the card! It was a real treat getting good ol’ fashioned mail. It’s now in a place of honor on our fridge (amongst the F-Word Magnetic Poetry Kit and the Suzanne Bonamici card that is posted at kitty-eye-level because our cat has a crush on her).

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