I’m grateful for toilet tissue

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In all the Facebook posts about gratitude, have you ever seen someone express thankfulness for toilet paper?

Well, think about it. Where would we be today without cushiony, perforated tissue (disregarding arguments about which way it should be placed on the holder)?

Anyone who has ever traveled to a developing country and had to rough it outside the confines of a luxury hotel can tell you what a precious commodity Charmin is. In Brazil, way back when as I learned to rough it as a Peace Corps volunteer, toilet paper came only in the consistency of ugly crepe paper. Once used, it could not be put down the toilet for fear it would clog up the works, so it was confined to a wastebasket, providing a constant room un-freshener. (Sorry, was that too much information?)

Ask your grandparents or parents their opinion of the evolution of bathroom dry goods. For them, toilet tissue may loom large in the comforts of life. It represents a move away from cold, smelly outhouses and Sears and Roebuck catalog pages; or worse, shelled corn cobs.

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Now to the object of this discussion: This week, as you gather with family members and stuff yourselves into oblivion so you can watch the football games with eyes glazed over from satiety, ditch the usual drama and talk to your elders. If you can’t record their anecdotes with a digital recorder of some kind, make mental or physical notes about their wisdom. What are they grateful for? They probably have not expressed their gratitude on Facebook so how else will you know what they deem their life’s blessings?

Rockwell

For an ex-mother-in-law, I’ll bet that sliced, store bread would rank right up there with her first automatic washer. For her, it represented the ultimate luxury and freedom for her own mother from the daily grind of getting hands to elbows dirty with flour. It might have even been a badge of privilege to open a school lunch box to reveal: Viola! A sandwich made with store-bought bread instead of that coarse homemade stuff…. plus a scorer of brownie points with less fortunate classmates.

Our ancestors and elder family members probably found God’s blessings in similar mundane details of daily life . . . things that we have been taking for granted for decades. How will we know what those blessings amounted to unless we ask? How will their voices sing to us from the grave unless they are recorded in some way?

It’s time to draw up a new set of resolutions, well ahead of the New Year. Resolve to talk to your elder relatives, listen to their stories and record them in some way. Find out what they appreciate about toilet tissue. Soon you will be looking at this commodity with more gratefulness, through the eyes of those who saw its advent with much thanksgiving.

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Widowhood: Free to be a sports fan again

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The Halloween pumpkin my son carved this year was frequently photographed by trick-or-treaters' parents.

The Halloween pumpkin my son carved this year was frequently photographed by trick-or-treaters’ parents.

During the 21 years I was married to my late husband, our lives revolved around our newspaper, gardening and maintaining a home, 20 acres and assorted outbuildings, plus a number of domestic animals. Seldom was there any room left over for sports.

But in a previous marital incarnation, sports was a family pastime. If it was Sunday, males and females alike gathered around the console television in the large living room of some family member. If food preparation was occurring in a kitchen, there was always a reassuring murmur of a familiar sportscaster as background music. If we were on the road or on vacation, the radio was always tuned to a baseball game, professional football or baseball match or college ball.

I grew up in the pre-Title IX era when girls were cheerleaders or pep club members and our main form of physical exertion took place in a school gym, while wearing ugly one-piece gym suits with our names stenciled on the pocket; this followed always by a requisite shower.

Only when I got married the first time did I put my foot in the sports waters, trying my hand at golf and a few coed softball leagues. I was a miserable failure, except for making the winning catch to end the season in a women’s softball game. But I learned to be a great spectator.

And now, thanks to the Kansas City Royals, and a newly echoing house, I’ve rediscovered my lost sports affinity.

Those who study the stages of grief always note that having a television or radio on at night helps fool us into thinking there’s someone else in the house. It can be a comforting noise, especially if you’re tuned in to an athletic competition. Golf is a sure cure for insomnia (why do those announcers talk in a whisper, anyway?) NFL football is a great background for fixing an autumn Sunday meal, even if it’s only a meal for one. I’ve learned that baseball playoffs and a successful World Series can chase the blues away magically. So thank you, sports teams, for giving me a new temporary distraction and focus.

These days I read sports articles to the end, especially since they’re the dominant front page story. All the while I marvel at a segment of journalism that gets to break the rules of headline writing and sentence structure. This is journalism that is entertaining yet informative. Until I read Sam Mellinger’s front page story this morning, I had no clue that eight of the Kansas City Royals’ playoff wins were achieved in the sixth inning or later after coming from behind, sometimes by two or more runs. In fact, our home team is the “greatest rally team in more than 100 years of playoff baseball.”

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So, I join thousands, perhaps millions, of newly rabid fans in World Series excitement and pride. I can now surprise my son by occasionally talking baseball. And I am so glad our colors are royal blue, as that is one of my Color Me Beautiful complementary shades. I was waiting to buy my t-shirt until it could say “World Series Champs.”

My only challenge in watching last night’s game was calming down my dogs. Every time I yelled, they were ready to go into action and kick some butt. However, I believe the Mets were on the receiving end of some of that by some wonderful royal blue dogs.