Celebrating gratitude

Yesterday was the first day of the Lunar New Year, and despite not being of Asian persuasion (clearly I’ve got the French thing happening) why pass up any opportunity to acknowledge a holiday?

Apart from a day to feast to excess (as befitting the Year of the Pig), New Years Day is also when the promise of the year ahead feels the ripest and when we pledge to change all we need to change so we can reach the new goals we’ve set ourselves. And yet in our eagerness for change, I wonder if we sometimes risk losing the very essence of our me-ness.

Here is my confession. You see, I’ve long had a wish for opposable thumbs. Thumbs that can open pantry and fridge doors, grip and twist peanut butter jar lids, and unzip bags of snacks. This longstanding wish, brought to front of mind every so often by a tasty food item just out of reach, culminated in an incident involving 12 freshly-baked berry muffins packed into plastic Ziploc bags, cooling on the kitchen benchtop. Oh how I cursed my lack of opposable thumbs, for which I would’ve gladly traded my double dew claws that day. Pyrs are one of the few breeds of dog that have double dew claws on their hind legs. It’s sort of like having a spare toe, useful for navigating the mountainous terrain of our ancestors in the Pyrenees Mountains, rather less so for opening Ziploc bags containing berry muffins.

The memory left me pondering how often we rue the way we are and wish for an easy fix that we think would make our lives better. We might wish we were skinnier, or had different hair, or came from a different background. What we forget in those moments, or don’t acknowledge as often as we should in general, is that we are exactly what we are for a reason. We fit into a bigger picture. If Pyrs did have opposable thumbs instead of double dew claws, they might’ve snagged a few more muffins in life, but more likely would’ve been too busy falling down mountains and getting eaten by wolves. If I had different hair, I might not have been able to make clothing out of it for other dogs.

The start of a new year, even a symbolic one, is a time for us to be grateful for what we have and not to yearn for what we are not meant to have. However you believe the world and all that’s in it was created, trust that we are right just the way we are.

For the record, I did not let simple anatomy stand in the way of those muffins. I mauled every Ziploc bag with my teeth and extracted every single crumb. It took a herculean effort, primarily to avoid eating the plastic along with the muffins, but as the gloriously buttery cake crumbled in my mouth with its tangy bursts of berry and the shell of sprinkled sugar crystals cracked with a satisfying crunch between my teeth, I wondered whether the real lesson is that whatever we lack in opposable thumbs may yet be possible to overcome by willpower.

May your new year be rich with opportunity to celebrate all that you are.

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