My Vanilla Is Better Than Your Vanilla. And Other Things I’m Thankful For.

I don’t remember how old I was when I realized the vanilla we used in recipes at home was “adult vanilla.”

Maybe it was when we found out our housekeeper was stealing it and getting wasted off of it while she ironed our clothes. That was probably it.

For all my life, there has always been a fancy bottle with a hand written label on it in one of our cabinets. My mom would add little bits of liquor to it every now and then – sometimes it was bourbon, other times it was brandy. When she got crazy, it was rum! When she found vanilla beans on sale, she would buy some and slip them down into the bottle and remove the old ones.

She would pull out the fancy bottle when a recipe called for a teaspoon or tablespoon of vanilla. I never knew there was anything called Vanilla Extract.

You can call me a vanilla snob if you need to.

Anyway, a few years ago, for Christmas, I believe, my mom gave both me and my sister fancy bottles with hand written labels on them.

She passed down bottles of her own vanilla.

The label read: Yes, that says “Originally bottled in 1983.”

This was one of those gifts that brought tears to my eyes because it was a childhood memory that was ever present. Every time I reached for (crappy) vanilla extract, I longed to have “real vanilla.” Vanilla out of the pretty bottle in the pantry.

I’m thankful that my mom saw fit to pass this on to us now instead of later. Life tastes better because of it. Silly? Yes.

But whatever.

The only downfall to this magnificentness? You can’t make ice cream with it. BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FREEZE! (Lesson learned the very hard way.)

Time and persistence taste delicious.

I’m thankful for time. Time that helps heal wounds, physical and emotional.

I’m thankful for persistence. Persistence to train, to love, to pick up my feet day after day.

I’m thankful for the obvious. My husband, my son, my Guardian Angel with a name. I’m thankful for my parents and sister and her beautiful family. I’m thankful for my house and my health and the ability to do most things I want without much effort.

I’m thankful for my job and my coworkers. They are a great group to work with and I never could have imagined being excited about going back to work. See also: Benefits.

I’m thankful for my Disney Half Marathon training team and the Ronald McDonald House.

I’m thankful for my friends, the ones I’ve had all my life, the ones who only live in my computer, and those in between.

I’m thankful for the freedoms that our country allows us. I’m also thankful for the freedom to keep some of my opinions to myself.

I’m thankful for pretty fall colors, bright spring flowers, light dustings of snow and refreshing summer showers.

But most of all, I’m thankful for fancy bottles with hand written labels that are full of memories.