But the funny thing about being a parent is, you find yourself feeling grateful almost every day, not just during a food-fueled holiday. If you're not marveling over the baby you're raising, you're relieved and thankful that another day passed without a major incident or trip to the ER. For me, though, the richest place to find blessings has to be in the mundane parts of parenting. With that in mind, here are some of the reasons I'm feeling especially thankful this year:
* Spill-proof sippy cups that are actually spill-proof. If I had a dime for every time a bottle flooded my purse, I'd have enough for a few overpriced cocktails -- which is exactly what I want as I'm wringing out my poor handbag, tossing waterlogged packs of gum, and dunking my saturated phone in a bucket of uncooked rice. Of all the sippy cups I've purchased -- and there are many -- only two have managed to keep the liquid where it belongs. And I will continue to be grateful for them even after my son packs off for college.
* Any morning I wake up first. I used to dread the shrill beep of my alarm clock. Now that's a welcome sound compared with my son's morning wails. (Seriously, what's up with those?) Unlike my alarm clock, he doesn't go off at the same time every morning and he definitely can't be quieted down with a snooze button. So any time I can leave dreamland on my own terms is a win.
* Playdates that don't end in tears and broken things. Playdates aren't just good for your baby, they're also a godsend for those days when you're so starved for adult interaction that you'd consider answering a telemarketer's phone call. You know, just to chat. The downside, of course, is that it's a rare day when two or more babies get together and everyone comes out smiling. If one's not playing Little Rabbit Foo Foo on someone else's head, then another needs a nap/diaper change/snack—stat.
* Hand-me-downs that look new. Don't get me wrong, I'm immensely grateful for anything friends are willing to give me, and I do my best to pay it forward. But I can practically hear the angels sing when someone gifts us with a bag of barely-worn clothes or an expensive toy their family no longer wants.
* Baby products that are a joy for grown-ups to use. Could a wet tissue or a cheapie wipe clean my kid's face after he's played in the gravel all afternoon? Of course. Will it smell as good as a Boogie Wipe? I think not. And for that, I will continue to plunk down a little extra for a pack. I'll also swear my allegiance to umbrella strollers that are easy to fold and unfold, car seats that don't require an advanced degree to install, and anything with a cupholder.
* Spontaneous bear hugs and kisses. I saved my favorite one for last. There is nothing like feeling a pair of tiny arms wrap around your neck or a little pucker land sweetly on your cheek. Ten times out of 10, it snaps me out of whatever bad mood I'm in and makes me feel, well, infinitely grateful.
Now it's your turn: Why are you grateful this year?
Image of Joshua Vengrow courtesy of Bonnie Vengrow