I have seen Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” (conservatively) 150 times. I love how the general tears up at the end (“We’ll Follow the Old Man”), and the ironic brilliance of “Love You Done Me Wrong” (here’s a tip, honey, stop choosing the incredibly gay men who are your backup dancers for the number), and of course “Sisters” (a stock number for talent shows for years; my mom and her best friend do a particularly splendid version). But one of my very favorite numbers that Berlin ever wrote is the sweet, simple “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
The last few months have been tough here at the Farmstead. October was full of worry, uncertainty, and grief, both for our sweet Lou and for the end of a cherished relationship. I have spent a few weeks sick and traveling, and the house is a mess. The laundry is piled up, the fridge is empty, and I’d really like to spend a week sleeping and cleaning this joint up, but my entire upcoming week is booked solid. I have had a series of what Anne of Green Gables called “Jonah days.”
So right now is a particularly good time to count my blessings. And there are so, so many of them. Just a few of them, in no particular order:
I have hands-down the best sister (and roommate) on earth, who is also one of my very best friends.
My mother is brilliant, funny, and generous, tough enough to raise two girls on her own while building us a loving circle of adopted extended family. The older I get, the more of her I see in me. And while Oscar Wilde said, that “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy,” it’s no tragedy in my case.
My step-dad, Mr. Dan, who was not scared off by a 12-year-old snarking at him over dinner and stayed to become a father, mentor, and staunch advocate for the Mullen girls.
Eileen, my second mother. Peggy, long-distance grandmother and kick-ass broad. Pam and Jerry and Barb and Marge and the other adults who shaped me throughout my childhood.
My cats. My crazy kitties have taught me how to love unconditionally. They’ve snuggled me while I cried, slept next to me through fevers, and made me sick with laughter (and also just sick, while cleaning up hairballs). I can’t imagine coming home and not seeing them.
My friends. My BFF Chris, who after nearly three decades of friendship can read my mind and can always make me laugh. My long-time roommate and fellow Grey Sister Christie, whose common sense and killer cooking abilities are both inspiring. My friends from AB, many of them new, whose supercharged creativity is a joy.
My job. Not just to be employed, although that’s a great blessing, but to do work I love with people who share my values.
Zoloft. I’m not going to lie, therapy and antidepressants have been instrumental in making me a grounded, balanced, healthy person. I am so grateful to have come out the other side of depression heart-whole, thanks to amazing support.
And so many others: a comfortable home, clean water, enough to eat, the very basics that so many people don’t enjoy.
So on my Johah days, I’m doing my best to count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.