Once upon a time a mom loved her son very much and wanted to show him how thankful she was for him.
Moms can list many ways that they are grateful for their children. But lists seem to be used for things that need to be checked off – like homework, chores, or errands.
No. A list would never do.
The mom thought and thought until she came up with an idea.
She found an old helium tank in a dusty corner of the garage and lugged it out onto the driveway along with a bag of balloons and a spool of string.
I will write a word on a balloon, a reason he makes my heart feel happy, my face smile and my belly laugh, thought the mom. And I will surprise him with a small bundle of balloons. She secured the first balloon, bright orange, onto the tank and filled it with helium. After tying it, she carefully pulled a sharpie marker across the rubber spelling out the word “generous,” thinking of the many times he was happy to share his toys or snacks. She tied a string to the balloon and secured it to the fence post.
She grabbed a light blue balloon next, filled it, and wrote out the letters just as carefully … W-I-T-T-Y. Yes, she nodded to herself, remembering the countless times he knew just what to say at just the right time to make her smile, giggle, or think about things in a different way.
Now the mother was really on a roll. Balloon number three was green and had two words: “good cook.” Ahh, the smell and taste all the things they had made together in the kitchen over the years – soup, cookies, cupcakes, pancakes, scrambled eggs, popcorn with butter and salt and hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.
The purple one said “animals,” because she was grateful that he had a special way with animals and helped care for his guinea pig and dogs. The animals loved him back,that was true!
The red balloon had the word “curious” on it for the boy was always eager to learn about the world and how things worked and how things were made. She was grateful that he loved to read and explore new ideas and appreciated that he asked questions every day.
The yellow one simply said ‘hugs” because hugging her son felt like collecting all the magic dust from all the history of the world and wrapping it around her for a few seconds.
“Creative” was neatly printed on the white balloon, and that was for all the wonderful original ideas he had. The videos he would make with friends, the Lego creations.
Her small bundle soon turned to a medium bundle, then grew to be a colossal collection of balloons, bigger than the man’s near the merry-go-round at South Coast Plaza. She ran out of helium and balloons before she ran out of reasons to be grateful. The breeze blew the colorful bunch as the words bumped against each other “friendly,” “intelligent,” “trustworthy,” “ good back rubber,” “funny,” “unique,” “sensitive,” “deep thinker,” “sharp memory,” “empathetic,” to name a few.
She called to her son presented him with the bouquet of gratitude. He liked it very much and they hugged, but as they did, she felt her heels leave the ground, followed by her toes.
Still hugging, the two of them were slowly ascending. Up and up the climbed, until they remembered they were both afraid of heights so this could quickly become a problem. Lucky for them they were just passing over their neighbor’s backyard.
“Hold on!” the mom yelled, and opened her hand, releasing the hundreds of strings into the sky as they fell to the warm rubber bounce of the neighbor’s trampoline.
The balloons separated but continued to climb past the clouds, until they were tiny colored dots in the sky, each a reminder of why she was thankful for her son. They watched until the last one was out of view.
“Although we can’t see the balloons anymore,” the mom explained to her boy, “it’s as if I can feel them in my heart. A thousand reasons I am thankful for you, lifting my heart and my smile each day.”