We sit in her warm kitchen, an impromptu repast before us. My mother hovers over the “Swedish egg coffee” still perking on the stove in its quintessential enamel pot. There are ginger cookies (pepparkakor) on the table. Outside it is snowing heavily. The flakes are enormous.

The coffee is ready, the room fragrant with its pungent scent. Once seated my mother bows her head. Though this cookie and coffee mid-afternoon pick-me-up is hardly a full-on meal, my mother prays a prayer of thanksgiving. We expect this, do not dive in before she holds our hands and offers her prayer. Ever since I was a child she would say, “in everything give thanks.”

Bob is with me on this winter afternoon while the snow continues and the sky is already darkening. As I write I can see him now, the prayer ended, listening intently to my mother, a widow of so many years, respecting her thoughts, her words as she expresses them. They share a unique affiliation. He can make her laugh like no other. He “gets her”, ameliorates for me some of her character quirks, appreciates her vast intelligence, understands her sorrows. He is a true partner in loving my mother as I do, yet without the tangled or complicated emotions I have at times. I remember how he picked up on her “in everything give thanks” prayer before any unremarkable “coffee and cookie mini-meal” and we give thanks, if he has anything to say about it, in our own home as well.

Brother-in-law David Carlson often speaks of his “parking place angel”, a special compensation David has claimed as his own, the “angel” opening the way for a spot directly in front of many a destination. We have laughed at this over the years, but now, as a person who has experienced some measure of knee challenge, I give thanks for a parking spot which “happens” to be there for me to snag. I don’t presume to ask God (or his angel) to open a place just for me, but when its there for the taking I breathe a sigh of relief and say “thank you”.

Parking spots, snowstorms, Swedish egg coffee, ginger cookies, a mother who taught me about prayer, a husband who was true blue and given to laughter and who loved me all of the days of his life here on earth, I pray to be a person in 2019 who will “In everything give thanks…”

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead in every situation,

through prayers and petition, with thanksgiving,

tell your requests to God.

And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

April D. Carlson, LCSW