Do you typically have Thanksgiving dinner with a large group of family and friends?
If you do, you may have been subjected to the tradition of going around the table and everyone, in turn, having to say what they are thankful for this year. I know I have been. The thing is, I’m not thankful for everything, and so after a few years of that I ran out of things to say. Not wanting to be a party pooper or seem ungrateful, I started making stuff up. I think the last straw for my family was the year I said I was deeply grateful to Our Lord for clumping kitty litter. If you’ve got a cat or two you’ll know what I mean and how truly important it is, but for some reason Mrs. Jones and I have been eating Thanksgiving dinner alone lately. Not a bad thing, just sayin’.
Anyway, there is one thing I forgot that I am truly grateful for, and I want to express my gratitude here now, before I forget it again. It’s something I think about every day for a couple of minutes, and every time I do I get a little misty.
Thank God, thank heaven, thank the powers of the universe for thick, quilted bedspreads!
In today’s busy world, with the many pressures all of us are under, it’s tempting just to get up in the morning and stumble out of the bedroom, grab a cup of coffee, take a quick shower, throw on your wrinkled clothes from yesterday, jump in the car and drive to your crummy job, where you will spend your time serving the needs of others and making people wealthy whom you do not even know and who will never invite you to go with them to Rio on their private jets. Not that you’d go, but still.
But you know how wrong that would be, don’t you? Of course you do! Civilization is not the accumulation of money. It’s not reading and learning about Plato and Augustine. It’s not the construction of monuments and skyscrapers, or even landing on the moon. That stuff is good, but it isn’t the essence of Civilization. No, my friends, Civilization is the little things, the small courtesies and disciplines without which we would never have ventured far past the entrance of the cave. It’s chewing with your mouth closed, smiling at people you don’t know, turning things in to the Lost and Found, edging the lawn.
And yes, Civilization is making the bed.
It’s a basic tenet of civilized living that the bed must be made. It’s one of those seemingly unecessary chores that has to be done. If we don’t make our beds, if we can’t exert that small amount of discipline on ourselves, what’s next? Once we have abandoned that formality, perhaps we will decide that we needn’t tuck in our shirts because, hey, that takes a little time and effort, and makes you a little bit uncomfortable. And there we will be, out in public, looking slovenly. Why not pick our noses on the bus, then? Why not indeed. Someone doesn’t like it? How about a big punch in your nose, then, sir? In fact, since you have bothered me about looking sloppy, maybe I will just bloody your big nosy nose and rape your girlfriend. How would you like that?
You see how things start to fall apart when you get loose with the bed-making? But once you have made the bed in the morning, you will find that you are on the road to a genteel and civilized day. You can find your clothes for the day and lay them out on the bed. Noticing that they seem to be a bit wrinkled from being under the coffee table all night, you might select a different ensemble, or perhaps touch up the old one with a steam iron. Then, once you are out in the world for your busy day, you will want to be careful with your wardrobe. Nose-picking is discouraged, and fighting and raping on the bus is completely out of the question. Strangers take note of your good grooming (and your tucked-in shirt) and smile at you. You smile back.
All of which makes me thankful for my puffy quilted bedspread. The important chore of bed-making is made so simple! I just pull up the sheet and blankets, no need to go around and around my bed, tightening everything and making sure the entire assembly is laying perfectly flat so that a quarter will bounce off it. I toss the glorious bedspread over it, give it a quick snap and watch it float down on the bed, covering all the bumps and wrinkles (and sometimes the TV remote and the telephone).
It’s the little things, people. Think about it.