Holidays,  Life,  Magpie Writes,  Pet Related Posts

30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection – Days 6-9

I said at the beginning of this that I’d probably be doing some “catch-up” type posts as I work through this blog challenge, and I was not wrong. The middle of November is always crunch time at work, and my schedule makes posting truly daily pretty much impossible because of the time it takes to photograph, edit, and publish a post. But while I don’t have the time to publish daily, I have been making sure to take a moment of my day, everyday, to think about that day’s prompt.

And so here’s the first catch-up post, with Days 6 – 10.


Day 6
Something From Childhood: My Dancing Russian Girl


My grandmother has one of these little dolls that from a very early age I used to love. She’s basically just a little shell on a post, so that when you touch her, she swings back and forth like she’s dancing. A simple little thing, really. Probably didn’t cost more than $10. Me getting her wasn’t any sort of big deal either. We were at the church christmas festival or picnic or something and they had a little table where they were selling Russian themed stuff (I was raised Russian Orthodox), including these little dolls. Whoever I was with at the time (I was really young – I don’t even remember) let me pick one out because I was always staring at my grandmother’s and making it dance. And that’s it. No huge significance, no life changing event. Just an offhanded, “Would you like one?” moment. But she’s been with me ever since, and she makes me smile.

It’s hard to verbalize exactly why, but I guess most of it’s because even though I’m mostly Ukrainian, not Russian – she still brings me back to warm memories of holidays surrounded by tradition and heritage. Of pirogies and halupki, of candlelight and hushed praying in Russian, of the deep Bass voices and eight-part harmonies of Orthodox church music. She reminds me that I’m connected to the past in so many rich and varied ways. And for that, I’m grateful.


Day 7
An Everyday Thing: My Collection of Cozy Blankets

I love blankets. I seriously love them. Nothing makes me feel better after several weeks of scheduled hell than coming home in the winter and curling up under a big floofy blanket. Except maybe doing so with a cup of tea spiked with whiskey, and a good video game or book.


Day 8
A Favorite Saying/Quote

you are not required

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm”

I saw this on Reddit once, several years ago, and in the time since it’s made the rounds on Pinterest and several other places. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time, and I continue to need the reminder of this simple fact. I run myself so ragged sometimes in the effort to keep others happy. Now sometimes, it’s necessary. Doing so is, honestly, sometimes just part of being a teacher. I might be exhausted, and achy, and ready to leave, but if a student comes to my office door with a paper in hand genuinely wanting help – I won’t turn them away.

But it is nice to have the reminder that there’s a limit. Or rather, that there should be. A reminder that I am not failing as a teacher, or significant other, or daughter, or sister, or whatever other role I’m filling that day if I have to stop and say “no” occasionally for my own wellbeing.


Day 9
Memory: Memories of Our First Dog


That little nugget there is me, standing with my parent’s first dog – Petrushka – and my paternal grandfather. My aunt posted this photo on Facebook the other day and seeing it flooded me with smiles and memories, not just of my Grandfather, who died back in 1999, but of Petrushka as well.

Now, my grandfather I think of often. He had served in the military in the Pacific during the ending days of WWII, and with that developing as my specialty, he’s on my mind frequently, and as such, so are my memories of him.

Petrushka, however – I quite literally hadn’t thought of in years. See, Petrushka and I had a tumultuous relationship. I was young. And she was quite large. And then there was the fact that she bit me once when I was a toddler. Like, a “directly in the face – needed a lot of stitches and it’s a miracle my face isn’t deformed” kind of bite.

Now, before you start accusing my parents of negligence for not putting her down or giving her away after that – it legitimately wasn’t the dog’s fault. She had been fast asleep in front of the couch and our asshole cat at the time, Arthur, decided it would be a great idea to reach down, hook her ears with his claws, and yank. She snapped reflexively as she woke and I just happened to be in the way as I toddled by. With the exception of that one moment, she was always really great with kids.

She died only a few years after everything happened, at the ripe old age of 12, and I’ve always felt a bit guilty for how I treated her after that. She was a very friendly dog and always tried to be affectionate with me – but I was afraid. I was very young – like toddler young – and I didn’t understand the concept of accident. I didn’t really understand what had happened. And so I spent almost the rest of her life shying away.

I don’t precisely remember this specific moment. But I cherish the memories it brings to the surface of Petrushka. The good, the bad, and the lessons I learned about animals and guilt by looking back on my fear. Rest easy, Petrushka. You were a good dog.

(I do suppose this would have been a better fit on Day 2: A Photo – but I wasn’t aware of its existence at the time.)

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