The Grateful Dance

I’m a believer in floating holidays. You can enjoy black jelly beans on any Sunday, not just Easter; give presents when inspired to, not only on Christmas and birthdays. Call and Mom and Dad on weekdays and not just on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I like the holidays—I like that we have rituals to remind us to celebrate, or mourn, or atone, and I really like eating good food.

candleBut I also like keeping a holiday spirit flickering all year round. So I’m having some Thanksgiving today, feeling grateful for (in no particular order):

 My dad, who turns 94 today, and is still maintaining his own household with my Mom (who’s soon to turn 90).

My health. I’m by no means as healthy as I’d like to be, but I’m healthy enough.

My imagination. When friends just can’t be found… they can be made up.

flagDemocracy. On its worst day, democracy is still a better bargain than a lot of the alternatives.

Flowers. Not sure why, but flowers have always been dear to me.

Cheese. I pretty much live off of it, some weeks.

Readers. Without them, a lot of my dreams would be demoted from hopes to wishes.

Dreams. My most worthwhile and enjoyable challenges all started out as dreams.

booksLiteracy. With the ability to read, so much has been made possible for me.

Pets—pups, kitties, horses… special comforts, all.

FRIENDS.

That I never again have to go to school unless I want to; that I never again need to ask anybody’s permission to go to the bathroom. (Issues alert.)

School. Without it, I’d be nowhere.

Sandra Shen

Sandra Shen

Music. When words fail… music speaks.

A roof over my head, complete with wood stove and running water.

Privacy.

That my daughter has a roof over her head, and health, and an education…

Antibiotics. Yes, I know they’re mis-used, but they save lives, too.

Writin’ buddies, because being a published author isn’t always easy.

FAMILY. I was lucky to be born into a terrific family and count my sibs among my best fallfriends.

Humor. When all else fails, a laugh will get you past the rough spots.

Seasons. They change just when I need them to, and give life a sense of moving forward.

Babies. No list of gratitudes would be complete without babies, grannies, and grandpas. Also aunts, uncles and cousins.

Eilean DonanTravel. An author thrives on new scenes, and new scenery.

And so much more… the ability to use a computer, to type my stories electronically. The sense of sight, hearing, touch, and taste, which bring me so much pleasure. Telephones that connect us all over the world. Sunsets and sunrises. Brownies…

small kitten And I’m grateful for the people who comment here. I’ll give away three $25 Amazon gift cards this week, because the Christmas shopping has started in earnest, and who can’t use a good book? So, what holiday would you sprinkle onto the upcoming week and why?

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85 comments on “The Grateful Dance

  1. 1
    Martha Eddy says:

    I, would choose Thanksgiving as it relates to gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for : family, friends, health, a roof over my head, the taste of food to eat, eyes to enjoy my books, ears that can hear, “I Love You ” from my husband, the sense of touch to enjoy hugs and kisses from said husband, the feeling of contentment that what I have is enough. What more could one ask for?

  2. 2
    Renee says:

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂 It’s important to review all that we have to know how good we really have it!

  3. 3
    Leigh says:

    Valentine’s Day, because it’s always good to spread love around.

  4. 4
    Anne Hoile says:

    My Indian and Pilgrim statutes come out from under the eaves on October 1st to remind me to be thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed on me and mine.

    • 4.1

      At one time, I did business with an organization owned by a Mohawk tribe. On Columbus Day, they celebrated surviving 500 years of genocide. Puts things in perspective rather soberly, and well it should.

  5. 5
    Mandy Miller says:

    Thanksgiving — because it’s important to me that my kids realize how blessed they are and how things could be so different
    Valentine’s Day — because love should be shared unashamedly
    and in a tribute to Alice in Wonderland: Un-Birthdays because everyone needs presents and fun without the burden of getting older… Sometimes it’s just fun to celebrate being alive!

    Thank you, Grace! You’re a wonderful person and a Very Merry Un-Birthday to you!

  6. 6
    Cheryl Scherer says:

    I would choose Thanksgiving because I think it is important that we be grateful for what and whom we have in our lives. I love when authors write stories centered around holidays. It makes the book that extra special when reading and makes one think about the meaning. Not many authors write including Thanksgiving as the back round….it would be a nice change.

    • 6.1

      Cheryl, I’ll keep that in mind. I have a contemporary trilogy coming out in 2015, three brothers who own a law firm, and I could see doing a family novella around Thanksgiving for them. Excellent idea!

  7. 7
    Vanetta says:

    Love your blog and it’s a great thanksgiving to give thanks to! Thanksgiving is my holiday because it seems like the most “truest” holiday of them all, it doesn’t have all the “commercial effects” to it like the others does and it feels just down right – RIGHT for families. When our family comes together for Thanksgiving it truly is a a Thanksgiving because now that we are in different states I am so thankful we are able to share our time together.

    And I am Thankful that I we get to share “our” imagination friends together. 🙂

  8. 8
    Vanetta says:

    Forgot to mention… Tell your Daddy… Happy Birthday from all your friends out here – hope he has a blessed day!

  9. 9
    Sara Jones says:

    I would say Valentine’s day. I love to show my daughters that you can show love for people all thru the year and not just one day. I slip notes in their bags to say how much I love them and to always remember that.

    • 9.1

      I still tell my kid I love her, because I do and I always will. I text it, I email it, I say it. To have somebody to whom you CAN express that sentiment is something to be grateful for in itself.

  10. 10
    Jennifer says:

    I’d agree with a lot of the other commenters and with Grace that Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to celebrate every day. But I’m also going to throw my vote in for celebrating the New Year every day — because really, each new day when we wake up, we get another chance to greet the world anew, make promises to ourselves to do just a little better at something, and put aside the hurts and disappointments of the previous day. Not that formal resolutions are necessary! But knowing you wake up and the reset button has already been pushed is a great way to give yourself a fresh start. 🙂

    • 10.1

      So Leigh might be prone to giving out gratuitous hugs this week–be warned!

    • 10.2

      The Scots make a bigger deal out of New Year’s than Christmas. I think it comes from being a Northern country, where winter gets very dark and cold, indeed, but also one with a history of hardscrabble living for much of the populace. A forward orientation, one of hope and good cheer, becomes necessary for survival, much less success, and their New Year’s traditions emphasize that.

  11. 11
    Lisa Hutson says:

    I wish for a granddaughter day that I can celebrate any old time I wanna.
    I am thankful that her parents let us take her on trips occasionally. And every year we get to go to Disney at Christmas. Which is coming soon and I am SOOOO grateful for that!!
    I love your list. So many of your gratefuls are the same for me. I am the luckiest of lucky. 🙂
    I have a wonderful husband as well. Like the good kind. You know those friends that you see with the husbands that you say, “She is so lucky. He cant be for real.” Well, he is and I am. 🙂
    I am also thankful to live in the desert. Where I don’t have to deal with snow and ice. Falling on my bum, getting stuck, sliding all over the road and frozen locks.
    I am thankful that my wonderful husband likes to travel just as much as I do. That we agree on the important things about traveling.
    And we are both thankful that we never ever have to go back to Italy. Ever.
    Gosh, I could just go on and on, I think. 🙂
    Thanks for bringing it up, Grace. That we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving. 🙂

  12. 12
    Linda Mitchell says:

    I have a large family, and Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, not because of presents, but because everyone makes an effort to be nice to each other, and can all get together to enjoy the company of each other, and love the little ones. Happy everything.. Also the real reason for Christmas, even though so many people are trying to forget this part, it means the most to me.

    • 12.1

      Finally, a vote for Christmas! I like the long break from the routine, the putting a cheerful face on the entire house–sometimes the entire neighborhood. I like any story that focuses on children and love. Good points, Linda.

  13. 13
    Sarah R. says:

    I am loving all the answers on here and most heartily agree with celebrating Thanksgiving and even Valentine’s Day, which I am not a fan of, all year long.. I do have so much to be thankful for even when things aren’t going well and of course I am all about showing love and kindness to everyone.

    Happy Birthday to your dad.

  14. 14
    Moriah says:

    I think Thanksgiving is a great holiday to remember year round. It’s so easy to lose track of all the great things that are in your life when something isn’t going quite right. I’ve so thankful for my family, my puppy, my health, my job, and that in general I don’t have much to complain about.

    • 14.1

      A lady from West Africa once said to me, “You American women and your feminism. If you have the right to complain about your situation safely, then your situation is pretty darn good.”

      That kinda put some things into perspective along the lines of “you know you’re lucky when…”

  15. 15
    Mary Doherty says:

    I really loved your blog today, because some times we tend to forget how much we have, because we are so focused on the not so great things in our life. I love all of the holidays for different reasons. Today I am grateful for the little person who spent the night last night, even if she is running around like a crazy girl this morning. Lol. My grandchildren make my day a little better every day. They make me smile way more than I would be if I didn’t have them in my life. Yes I am one of those grandmas! Thanks again for a great blog!

  16. 16
    Sheryl N says:

    I love Thanksgiving for the time spent with family and being thankful for health and happiness. I love Christmas because it is the time to rejoice in the birth of someone special that some seem to overlook. Thank you for sharing

    • 16.1

      Sheryl, I’m with you on that one-two schedule, and I used to think of Thanksgiving as the warm up exercise for Christmas. Start with gratitude, good cheer and generosity, and continue with more gratitude, good cheer, and generosity, leavened with a dose of humility and hope.

      Good recipe for some good holidays.

  17. 17
    Kathy Nye says:

    I do like reading what everyone is grateful for this time of the year. Usually I can add to my list. Personally I keep a daily journal and only record things I want to remember and revisit. I guess in a way it is a Gratitude Journal.
    As a teacher I have always celebrated my students’ birthdays when they occur. I like making them feel special on their day. They each get a personal birthday card, usually a fancy pencil and lots of attention.
    Thanks for another wonderful blog.

    • 17.1

      I recall with wonder learning of the classroom tradition of bringing in cup cakes on your birthday, then taking one around to all the other teachers. Sister let us choose a friend to help carry the cup cake tray, too…

      A really nice departure from the usual class room routine, and I’m sure your students all glowed for days with the extra attention.

  18. 18
    Sharon F says:

    The Fourth of July and Memorial Day! I am so much in awe and very thankful for all our forefathers went through to bring about this great country we live in. I also want to give a heartfelt thanks to all of the men and women who have fought for all of us throughout the centuries so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have. As the saying goes “All gave some, and some gave all”….God Bless each and every one of them!

  19. 19
    Valerie L. says:

    Tartan Day because you can never have too many men in kilts, haggis, or single malt scotch. *G*

  20. 20
    Barbara Dickerson says:

    One year ago last Friday (November 1st, 2012), I got laid off from work. The small business I was working for had to declare bankruptcy. At the time, it was not something I was grateful for, but many positive blessings have flowed from that event that I am grateful for. I qualified for unemployment benefits. I qualified for a federal grant to go back to school and get training for a Project Manager’s Certification. Friday, one year to the day after being laid off, I interviewed for three jobs that required the new certification that I received in October. I still don’t have a job, but the interviews went very well, I felt good about myself, and confident that good things lie ahead. It has been a great year, and I am certainly grateful. Thanks for all you do, Grace! I love your blog!

    • 20.1

      Barbara, I was laid off twice. The second time I had a new mortgage on an old house, and a six month old baby. I feel for you, but like you, both times, my situation ended up being one of those infernal blessings in disguise. I hope the job you want the most comes through for you, and at the salary you deserve.

  21. 21
    Tiffany says:

    Thanksgiving is our family’s favorite holiday. There’s no pressure of gifts, it’s all about family, friends, and doing the #1 social activity that spans all cultures: eating! It’s such a nice over-inflated dinner that’s often filled with laughs and companionship and doesn’t have the stress associated with Xmas which has a countdown timer to buying and shipping gifts, getting JUST the right one, etc.

    • 21.1

      My family is large (seven children), and my mother took the parable of the beggar’s banquet seriously. Any strays–my dad’s graduate students, neighbors whose kids were away at college, ANYBODY–might end up at our table. This meant the kids got their own tables, sometimes in the living room while the grown ups were crammed in the dining room. All the good food and half the supervision.

      Good deal.

  22. 22
    Ellie W. says:

    I think I would throw down some Christmas. I do an annual fundraiser for a local domestic violence shelter, O Christmas Tea (www.OChristmasTea.org), and I’m thinking about Christmas starting in August of every year. I think the best thing I can do is do something for someone else who can’t do for themselves. And that is the very best of what Christmas means for me, while we couldn’t make things right in the world, Christ came to do that for us.

    Last year we raised $12,000 for Community Welcome House, a shelter that has a rare trait–they’ll take in teen boys with their moms. It means they qualify for a lot less state/federal funding. So groups like my Business Women need to step in, and be supportive.

    • 22.1

      It’s appalling how few family shelters will take in any kind of non-infant male, much less a dad with kids. Thanks for the good work you do, because it makes a difference. Christmas Eve is the second most violent night in America, exceeded only by Superbowl Sunday in the city that wins.

      And what does THAT say about us?

  23. 23
    Bonnie, aka the grouchy one says:

    Ms. Cranky here would like to see labor day again. Office closed, no gifts to buy, no special meals to cook, no company to entertain, sleep late. I’m very tired……

    • 23.1

      Bonnie, the Europeans think we’re daft. They get a ton more holidays than we do (also better benefits, usually), and they’re MORE PRODUCTIVE in most industries. What a novel concept–let people rest and relax, and they get the job done more efficiently. Scotland’s looking better and better…

      Grouchy Grace

  24. 24
    Kate says:

    thanksgiving is the best – the essential holiday – family/ friends and food and thanks!
    Thanks for turning out so many wonderful books – like candy I have to force myself to read them slow because as fast you write, I can read faster. 🙂

  25. 25
    Molly R. Moody says:

    Grace I think I’ll have to side with the majority here and say my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving even though I’ve celebrated it by myself for most of the last 14 years. I still have much to be thankful for: at the top of my list are my daughter, her husband, and the grandchildren, 4 girls and one boy; my sister, although I have spoken to here in two months, I’m sure we’ll get over this hump eventually; my health, back in January of ’01 when I was diagnosed with stage IV rheumatiod arthritis I was told that there was a good chance I’d be in a wheelchair in 5 years, God has been good to me though as I mostly use a cane though occasionally I use a walker with a seat when I go out; my cats; the roof over my head and the food in my kitchen and pantry; all the authors I read and the many I follow on Facebook as I’ve been lucky enough to win many books, gift cards, and other things from them; and last but not least the many books and other hobbies I have. Oh yes, I got an email from Amazon today, Gareth will hit my porch Tuesday afternoon. That means I’ll be setting aside Anne Gracie’s The Perfect Rake to read Gareth. I am so looking forward to it, wish it was coming tomorrow as I could take it when I go to the doctor on Tuesday.

    • 25.1

      Molly it’s your upbeat attitude that has kept you out of that wheelchair, I’m sure of it. Of course, reading a steady diet of happily ever afters doesn’t hurt either.

  26. 26
    Diane B says:

    I would choose Christmas because that seems to be the sure-fire holiday when my whole family manages to get together. The other holiday I love is July 4th because that’s the time for picnics, watermelon, cold beer and great fireworks. And since this is November and Thanksgiving is approaching, I’ll say how thankful I am for authors who have stories to tell.

    • 26.1

      I am too, Diane. I think I spent the first five years of my daughter’s life vacillating between Panicked, Overwhelmed, and Overguilted. If I had a good book, I’d know for an hour each night, or as long as I could keep my eyes open, I could go to a place where those things resolved into a happily ever after. That is SO important.

      I consider my keeper authors my daughter’s honorary godmothers. They’ve also been the guardian angels of my happiness.

  27. 27
    Barbara Elness says:

    I’d go with Thanksgiving as well, because it seems to be overlooked these days with everyone going from Halloween straight on to Christmas. After the Halloween candy orgy and before the Christmas madness, it’s the holiday that isn’t about getting or giving things, it’s about being thankful. I’m going to spend this Thanksgiving with my sister and her family and I’ll get to see some friends while I’m in California as well. It’s the first holiday I’ve spent with the family for about 10 years, so I’m excited. I’m with you on your thanks list Grace, especially the cheese. Pretty much any food is better with some cheese on it. 😀

  28. 28
    Amanda says:

    New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays because we resolve to commit to something new and there is always a sense of possibilities with a new beginning. I think we could all use a reminder to let go of the past and commit to positive thoughts more often.

    • 28.1

      New Year’s can be a reflective holiday, and I like that. I like people’s Good Memory jars, and the New Year’s customs, and idea that we start the year with a day off. We probably got that from the Scots, too, who’ve traditionally made a bigger deal of Hogmanay than Christmas.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogmanay

      Not sure about swinging those fireballs…

  29. 29
    catslady says:

    I am going to pick New Year’s Eve – new beginnings and all that. We’ve started a tradition of going out to dinner and seeing a movie (some see more than one). It’s friends and family and if you can make it great. No pressure of buying the perfect gifts or spending forever in the kitchen lol .I am thankful to be with those I love to start another year!

  30. 30
    Tracey S says:

    I love Christmas. The colors, the lights, the smells…and the giving. I really love the giving. There is something wonderful about giving a full, heavy, decorated
    bakery box to someone. I just love it. Cooking and baking for my family and friends is one of my blessings. At Christmas, I try to do new things, and get a little bit fancy. I read “somewhere” recently about Scottish Tablet. I don’t know if I can master it, but if I do, it will go in the boxes!

    • 30.1

      Watch out for that Tablet–it’s rocket fuel, and goes so well with coffee, hot chocolate, herb tea, and cold days. It’s also been known to attract historical romance authors over great distances.

  31. 31
    Mimi Smith says:

    Christmas. Because it’s all about family and presents 🙂

    mimismithblue AT gmail DOT com

  32. 32
    LSUReader says:

    I would like to spread the wonder and awe that come with a small child’s appreciation of Christmas. Thanks for an interesting post.

    • 32.1

      Kids do make Christmas, don’t they? My daughter used to laugh at me, leaving the lights up for weeks, getting window stickers and fussing their exact placement.
      Nobody to entertain with my decorating schemes now, and that makes it the whole thing just a bit less fun.

  33. 33
    Mercy A says:

    I was born and raised outside US. While I have been living abroad for about 2 decades, I never really understood Thanksgiving Holiday until just a couple of years ago.

    Dear husband and I had been married for 11 years and childless. Though we have not given up, we were at the point of accepting our fate – that it will be just the two of us when the miracle of miracles happened – I conceived.

    Our little bundle of joy is now a 5-year-old boisterous boy who is full of blazing energy. I cannot remember how it was without him in our lives and cannot imagine life without him.

    I am very thankful for the unconditional joy down in my heart, for the presence of peace in my being. I am thankful for a lot of things but most of all, I am thankful that God is good all the time.

    • 33.1

      Watch out for those miracles, Merci. My brother’s kids are ten years apart, though one of the parents was “medically sterile.” My nephews are the coolest young men, I wish they had many siblings just like them.

  34. 34
    Julee J. Adams says:

    I’m there with you, sister! Antibiotics (or else I would not be here), indoor plumbing, readily available easily prepared good food, clean water, friends, family, work, home, imagination (my own and others’) and tons (literally and virtually) of books and magazines to read.
    I’m grateful for you!

  35. 35
    MzKara says:

    I could use a little New Year’s, a fresh start or a do-over seems to be in order these days 😀

  36. 36
    Mary says:

    GRACE! I have just discovered you! At the risk of sounding just a little scary…I am reeaaallly liking everything I’m reading that you have written here and there! And I haven’t even read one of your books yet!

    • 36.1

      Welcome to the primate house, Mary. Stop by any time, and by all means, so read a book or two. The Duke’s Obsession bundle, the first three Windham family novels, is usually on sale for about $9.99 and most people think that’s a good place to start.

  37. 37
    bn100 says:

    Thanksgiving because that’s when most families get together

  38. 38
    Louise Partain says:

    Fridays!!!! And any day the air is bright, clear and the hummingbirds land on the rosebush outside my window peeping their high pitches chirp. The occasional Monarch butterfly is occasion for celebration as well.

    • 38.1

      I get squealy inside over birds, too, Louise. Indigo buntings and Baltimore orioles, especially, which are rare around here, but so striking. And my German irises are putting on a valiant show when there’s a foot of snow in the forecast.

  39. 39
    Louise Partain says:

    Oh and any day a new GB book comes out. So glad you are tying up all the stray heroes and heroines in the Lonely Lords series. With Heathgate and Fairly and of course with Archer and Morgan. Can’t wait for the next date to drop! (Especially liked the execution of Gareth’s heart opening.)

  40. 40
    Janie McGaugh says:

    In the stress of daily life, it’s easy to forget to stop and be thankful for what we have, so I’d choose Thanksgiving, too, because I have so many things to be grateful for.

  41. 41
    may says:

    We have Remembrance Day next week here in Canada. That’s a worthy cause. 🙂

  42. 42
    Monica Bjornstad says:

    This week I’d like to add more Thanksgiving, too. It seems the continual rant against the early encroachment of Christmas is well deserved, but maybe best combated by being thoughtfully thankful. I’m thankful for my supportive family who love and accept me even on days when teaching didn’t go as well as planned!

    Of course I’m also thankful for your wonderful books to escape life for a short time! Thank you for being such a gifted and prolific writer.

    • 42.1

      Monica, I’m not so prolific, but I wrote for several years before pursuing publication, so have a pile of completed titles that are only now seeing the light of day.
      And as for being gifted–that’s the right word. I love to write. It’s not a chore in any regard, but being published can be daunting, so I’ll accept your thanks for persisting with that end of the process.

  43. 43
    Cindy says:

    Suggestion for you next book: about Bronwyn, aka Winnie; having introduced the child we, your readers need to know what’s going to happen to her as a young lady — earl’s daughter (I assume St. Just will adopt her though I haven’t finished The Soldier yet; and I’m annoyed that the Guinevere/Lord Amery/ Westhaven situation is only now being explained, since one’s curiosity was aroused by the reference in The Heir and The Soldier; perhaps I shouldn’t criticize; you’re a wonderful writer and I cannot begin to write such stories; but because you are such a good writer the reader becomes totally involved with the characters and unexplained things are worrisome; it would have been nice if somehow the references to the situation could have been omitted from The Heir and The Soldier until after Douglas had been published, and Douglas could have preceded The Heir