When I named this year the year of the Cheerful Giver, I expected I was to be the giver, searching out sources of joy and using them as fuel for nurturing my loved ones in a happy, lighthearted way. As it turns out, most of my education in cheerful giving would come from the giving I received.

Several weeks back, I took the first batch of thank you notes to the post office. The colorful stack of words on card stock was only the Cliff’s Notes version of the love lavished on me during Gracia’s first weeks in open air, how friends and family descended on us with food, gifts and time spent, as strong or stronger than in years past.

While my keyboard has been quiet and the blog slow, I haven’t been wordless. My writing has been directed elsewhere…note by note expressing little bits of gratitude toward the individual people I’ve been breathing air with, rather than spending the bulk of my writing on the nebulous Internet.

This has been good, a time of centering and remembering that my writing never stands independent like some sort of “self-made man.” No, whether thank you note or blog post or narrative, the words are always exhaled in response to some fresh blessing.

The mercy, the meals, the power naps, the love lavished on the big kids, the gifts, the housework, the pictures, the pampering…all that our loving community has given has, in turn, filled me up to give. In these few months, I’ve rarely had the thought that I’m alone in this, even if most of the baby’s care depends directly on my actions. I don’t uphold the universe, or even this house. It is He who upholds and helps, sending best wishes in a swarm of friends.

Thank you, again and again.

*photo captured by newborn photographer, Rachel Vanoven

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