There’s a saying here in the South, and like many, it definitely has hidden meaning. For those who aren’t from here, some of our expressions may leave you puzzled. Like if we get really mad, we may just inform you that we’ll knock you into the middle of next week looking both ways for Sunday! Or if you ask how we are doing, we may leave you grossed out, explaining that we are hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit. That one always gets people but let’s be honest, it makes a point! And ain’t no one wanting to be so crazy busy that they are running around like a chicken with their head cut off… especially this vegetarian!
While many of our phrases come from quite literal experiences, most times there just isn’t any better way to get a point across. I tend to be a heart blesser, maybe the best one in town if you ask me. Unlike some of my fellow Southerners, I truly mean it when I say it. At least most of the time. Others like to use the phrase when they are really being facetious. Like when someone put on a poorly matched outfit and blessed the town with their presence. Bless their heart. Or that girl in church who doesn’t realize that she definitely doesn’t need to quit her day job and take up singing. Definitely bless her heart too.
No, for me… I tend to heart bless when people really need it. When a tragedy hits or an extra prayer is warranted. And over the years, my blessings have evolved into loving. I can’t quite put a finger on it as to when it happened, but I’ve become a heart lover too. So much so that those who work with me from across the country with varying dialects tend to know me by my catch phrase, “Love your heart.”
I mean it though. When I meet someone who’s heart is pure, you have to let them know that you just love their heart. And I feel fortunate because one of the purest of hearts lives under my roof in a room adorned with yellow decor and gray chevron patterns. She squeaks like a mouse when she gets excited, but to many people she’s the shyest of my bunch. But when that girl loves, she loves hard and with passion. That girl, my sweet Lyndi, is the epitome of the phrase all bottled up into one person.
It was the day after Thanksgiving. We hosted our small families the day before, and while the food was delicious and the company even better, it still entailed planning and lots of cleaning. We have three kids, so you know how that goes! Clean before they get up in the morning; then they drag out all of their toys. Clean what they got out during nap, only for the repeat button to seem to be stuck time and time again. To be honest, after a pleasant Thanksgiving and an all-nighter of Black Friday shopping, when the morning rolled around, I felt like I’d been chewed up and spit out. But, alas, it was a new day and my three woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Lucky us.
With Thanksgiving behind us, it was time to focus on the next exciting event filled with anticipation for my little munchkins – Christmas. And so no matter how tired or sore my feet were, it was time to pull out the artificial tree. To be honest, I was just as excited to do it as the kiddos were so after my husband carried up the box and pieced it together, I was as happy as a tick on a fat dog to get to fluff the tree.
To keep the kids from barging in, I let them feel a branch and realize that it was prickly and kind of hurt when you touched it. Just from the look at all of the scrapes on my hands from fluffing two, they can have a constant reminder that the tree is for looking and not touching. They were all excited, no doubt about it. Eli couldn’t wait to put on the ornaments and Luke was in awe at the lights. But before any of those were visible, Lyndi was thrilled just for the experience.
The tree was scrawny still, and there wasn’t a star in sight, yet that sweet little girl repeatedly approached me as I was arms-deep trying to open all the branches. “Thank you, Momma,” she told me time and time again, more than I could count. And then she would find a safe place on my body – sometimes my neck or legs – and hug me tight. At first I questioned what I did to deserved that kind of thanks. She’s hadn’t found her stash of presents yet (and hopefully won’t) and I didn’t give her an extra cookie. Nope. She literally was just thankful for what was to come. For the tree and all that it meant to her.
Then a box arrived in the mail. In typical family fashion, we had forgotten that we ordered some things, so we all got excited, thinking it was a special gift from someone we hadn’t expected. We all gathered around the box and I broke through the tape, only to realize that Lyndi’s birthday party decorations had arrived, and we were prepped and ready for a pretty awesome Peppa Pig party to celebrate her big day. Eli was let down and Luke skedaddled to find a new toy to amuse him. But Lyndi’s eyes were wider than normal, and that’s saying a lot as all of my kiddos have big browns. She scurried my way, wrapped her arms around my legs, and said, “Thank you, Momma. Peppa Pig!”
Over the past few days, I’ve started to pay more attention to our interactions, and I’ve realized that for a while I’ve not noticed the extent of this sweet girl’s pure heart. I mean, I’ve always known she’s a lover not a fighter, but when I took a minute to step back and really soak in all that she gives, I got much more than I expected.
I pick her up from school a tad early on Mondays to take her to gymnastics. She gets so excited, literally doing little bunny hops as she tries so hard to push out the word “gymnastics”! Yesterday, as I picked her up from school and we walked down the hall to leave, she grabbed my hand and thanked me. At dinner, when I give her yogurt, one of her favorites, she looked me in the eyes and thanked me too. Even when we get the chance to cuddle on the couch and I share my blanket with her so we can cuddle closer, she thanks me.
I realize that while she is appreciative of gifts and special things, it’s the experiences that she’s most grateful for. The tree doesn’t have to be beautifully decorated, although when it is she’s excited too, but just the fact that we have a tree and I went through the trouble to put it up, she’s happy. She doesn’t get upset if the snack I bring her after school isn’t what she was hoping for; she’s just grateful to have a snack. And her happy tank doesn’t run out. Last night before bed she thanked me again for our tree and in looking that way she saw her birthday decoration box and again, just as excited and authentic as before, she thanked me for that too.
I can learn a lot from that sweet girl. And I venture to say all y’all can too. She lives her life in the moment, and unless her heart is broken by something her brother did, she walks like she walks on air. She’s got a bounce in her step, a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eyes that can’t be taught. I wish I could take ownership of it, but I feel confident God blessed us with her sweet soul just the way she is. And she lights up the room and literally everyone she comes in contact with. I tend to think that her grateful heart and spirit makes her light as nothing holds her down; she’s merely lifted up by seeing life through a lens of thankfulness.
Her teacher at school shared with me a sweet encounter she had with Lyndi just a week before. The classrooms had been shuffled since fewer kids were at school during that week so Lyndi was in a room with a different teacher as Ms. Kenzie was giving others breaks. But as she passed Lyndi’s room, Lyndi got sight of her and called for her, asking if she could give her a hug. Of course, who wouldn’t want one. And while the hug was special, no doubt, afterwards, she looked up at Ms. Kenzie and thanked her for the hug back.
It’s the little things, like a free pair of sunglasses or a branded notebook that I bring back from work trips. Or when I let her borrow one of my old necklaces to match her outfits. Sometimes it’s just getting the chance to play with bubbles or chalk up the driveway. Or if I find an old shirt around the house with Minnie Mouse on it. For her, it’s not the stuff that she’s most grateful for. It’s the meaning behind it. It’s the experiences that are attached with it.
In her three short years on Earth, she’s embodied the true spirit of Thanksgiving. She looks at life with a thankful heart, always. Just ask her P-Paw, and he will agree after she thanked him no less than 20 times for a few pretzels and a drink he gave her as she circled pictures in the Black Friday ads.
She’s smart, my little Lyndi. Maybe she realizes that the stuff most people are thankful for will break, wear and tear, and go out of style. That what’s worth it in life isn’t things but experiences. It isn’t fads but those around us that make it most happy. Yes, this little 30 pound, chunky-cheeked beauty sees what most of us can’t, and she is thankful for it. And I’m thankful for her. To this Southern girl, I think she’s finer than frog hair split four ways. And yes, I do love her heart. One-hundred percent!