As we move toward the holiday that reminds us to be thankful for our many blessings, I’ve made an attempt to list some of mine. Because that list is far too long to share, I’ve narrowed it down to one small category: simple tools. I suspect we’ll never know who invented most of them and where or when they came into use. But I’m grateful for them all.

• WINDOW SCREEN: Every time I grow frustrated about the number of flies, spiders, red wasps, crickets and Asian ladybugs that share my home with me, I think of how many more there would be if I didn’t have window screens.
• FLYSWATTER: How much more difficult would it be to dispense with flies, spiders, red wasps, crickets and Asian ladybugs if not for this simple and inexpensive invention? I keep one in every room of the house.
• ICE PICK: No matter how quickly you try to get that essential-for-the-holidays 10-pound bag of ice home and into the freezer, it’s for sure that some of it will melt and then refreeze. Sure, you can take it out to the driveway and slam it against the pavement until it breaks apart, but it’s so much more civilized to stab it with an ice pick.
• CLOTHESLINE: Call me old-school, but I still believe there are few things more wonderful than clothes and bed linens dried by the wind and the sun. Though you can drape those items over fence rails or tree branches, a clothesline is a whole lot easier.
• CLOTHESPIN: How are you going to prevent those wet items from falling off the clothesline without clothespins? Not to mention keep a bag of Fritos fresh. Or the gaping drapes in a motel room closed.
• AXE: Got a fireplace to keep you toasty during the cold winter months? Be grateful for the axe that split the wood.
• BLAZE ORANGE CLOTHING: A relatively new invention, I suspect, but one for which I’m immensely grateful as I tromp through the woods during deer season. Or ride my bicycle at dawn or dusk.
• MANURE FORK: An item with little use for those who don’t have livestock, but essential for those who do. Not to be confused with a pitchfork, which is also a useful tool but which has tines too far apart to effectively muck out a barn stall.
• RUBBER BAND: There must be a million uses for this simple tool. Roll up the newspaper. Corral long hair. Keep a bag of Fritos fresh when a clothespin isn’t available. Discourage babies from opening cabinets where sharp knives and rat poison are stored.

And speaking of babies, seeing as how I now have two precious grandbabies for which to be
grateful this Thanksgiving, I saved the best for last.
• PACIFIER: For almost thirty years, I’ve marveled at the brilliance of this simple invention. And I marvel anew when I watch my own children pop one into their babies’ mouths to bring about instant happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Enjoy the turkey. And don’t forget to count your blessings.
(November 24, 2013)

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