We made hand turkeys this week and construction paper Pilgrim hats and a pumpkin that looks more like an orange box with a stem. We also started our annual Thanksgiving list of all the things we're grateful for. Last year I cut out colored leaves and we wrote an item on each leaf then taped it to the refrigerator. I was feeling less ambitious this year. Maybe the turkeys and Pilgrim's hat did me in. In any case, our "thankful list" is just two pieces of copier paper taped to the living room window.
I asked Caleb to contribute to the list and he suggested that I write down the obvious three: "Mama, Daddy, and Nathan." I added "Caleb" to be fair. Grandma and Papa S. and Grandma and Grandpa O. also made the cut. I asked Caleb if we were forgetting anything and he thought for a moment. I gave him a prompt: "Thank you, God, for..."
Let me explain. We have not secretly converted to Catholicism. I'm sure Pope Benedict XVI is a wonderful man and we can justly be thankful for him, but the Holy See was quite possibly the furthest thing from Caleb's mind. In our home, the "pope" is a plastic air pump that we use to inflate the boys' wading pool. Caleb dragged it out of the closet upstairs while I was preparing the room for a guest. Somehow he confused "pope" with "pump" and continues to use the two words interchangeably. Later that day, Caleb (with the help of some friends) made the discovery that jamming the pump handle down with just the right speed and force causes the nozzle to whistle loudly and fly across the room. He was thrilled!
Our guest arrived the evening after Caleb's pump discovery. He is a visiting professor whom Daniel had met only once. He is also British. This fact alone gives a person a veneer of sophistication that is intimidating to us Yankees. I'm always a little apprehensive when we have a house guest I've never met. Add to this the "British professor" factor and it is quite understandable that I was eager to make a good first impression. I had coached Caleb and instructed him to be very polite to Mr. Woods. He must have sensed my nervousness because he was on pins and needles waiting for Daniel to get home from the airport. As soon as the front gate swung open, Caleb bolted to the door shouting, "Shoot the pope, Mr. Woods! Come shoot the pope!"
I can't say that I am thankful for the pope (small "p"), but I am thankful for icebreakers. In the end we had a very nice week with Mr. Woods. By Wednesday night I was so at my ease, that I didn't even wince when Caleb climbed up next to our guest and announced with finger outstretched, "I have a booger, Mr. Woods." I'm not sure that Mr. Woods was equally pleased with that discovery, but he took it in stride. All things considered, maybe the pump/pope is not such a bad addition to our thankful list. Remind me to add "new friends" to the list as well.