During the Thanksgiving season, I often recall reading about a delightful young girl named Barbara Ann. She was a happy child, much of the time, because she had the special ability to find happiness in little things. When the skies were cloudy, she found joy in the shapes of the clouds. When she was stuck inside, she found happiness in the smell of a Crayola crayon, or in the sight of her cat streaking by at thirty miles an hour, or in the soft fluffiness of a cotton ball.
Sometime in Barbara Ann’s sixth grade year, she began to write down all of these little things that made her happy. She started with an ordinary spiral bound notebook, and soon she had filled it up. She got more and bigger notebooks, and as she grew older, she continued adding to her collection of all the little things that gladden the eye and bring wonder to the heart. Things like:
Onions on a hot dog.
Three gallon tubs of ice cream.
After twenty years of this, bubbly Barbara Ann Kipfer decided that other people might enjoy reading her collection, and she persuaded Peter Workman to publish them in a book called 14,000 Things To Be Happy About (New York: Workman Publishing, 1990). Since then, she’s written other books, earned two Ph.D.’s, and manages multiple reference-related websites, along with a personal one called Things to Be Happy About.
When I read from the list in Barbara Ann’s book, I discover that some of the things that make her happy don’t do a thing for me. We are different people. But reading her list inspires me to be more aware and more appreciative of some of those little things that bring joy to my own life and remind me of the goodness of God:
The smell of new-mown grass.
Writing with a yellow No. 2 Ticonderoga pencil, freshly sharpened.
Baked beans with real bacon.
A new novel by a favorite author.
The softness of a baby’s head.
The laughter of children.
A day when things go right.
Finding socks that match.
Corn flakes and cold milk.
A mountain stream full of rocks.
Looking at cloud tops from an airplane window.
Sometimes, sleeping until the sun comes up.
What kinds of things remind you of God’s love and goodness? What brings special joy to your heart and reminds you of the ever-present loving-kindness of God?
Whenever I contemplate a list of things that bring me hope and joy, it always concludes with the hope we have in Christ that God’s blessings go on and on.
My favorite Thanksgiving scripture is Psalm 100, a text in which the psalmist declares the reality of God, testifies to the goodness of God, and reflects on the lasting quality of God’s love. God’s love is steadfast, he says, — to all generations — even into eternity.
Thanks be to God.