• Swedish Pancakes – photo by cookiedog

This month I am participating in Jana Riess’s “Flunking Sainthood” Gratitude Challenge on Facebook. The task is to come up with – and write down – five things everyday for which you are grateful. This hasn’t been be too big of a stretch. The process of developing an attitude of thanksgiving has lots of good benefits – for which I am, as you might suspect, grateful.

One thing I have noticed as I pinpoint things I’m grateful for is that I am just as inclined to be thankful for little things as I am for grand things. I try to draw no conclusions when I see that my list of five includes things as diverse as fresh raspberries in the fridge and the Atonement, or pinkie toes and my husband’s successful cancer surgery. I’m just writing things down and allowing the bliss of gratitude to carry me along during the day.

This morning over breakfast I was telling my son Chase (26) about this discipline I’m involved in. He then introduced me to another kind of value-driven challenge or “game” called Pancakes or Waffles. The challenge is to make a selection between two good things, with the dire hypothetical consequence of the unchosen one being eliminated from ever having existed in the universe.

Here’s how our short foray went:

Chase: Pancakes or Waffles?

Me (being half Swedish this was pretty much a no brainer): Pancakes.
Pancakes or Autumn leaves?

Chase: Autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves or singing?

Me (after much groaning and reminding myself that “this is just a game; it’s just a game”): Singing.
Singing or … the Scriptures?

Chase (after an odd blast of staccato laughter and moaning):
The Scriptures.
The Scriptures or … children?

At that point I had to stop.

“No more of this torture!” I laughed. Or shrieked.

It took me a good half hour to shake off the disquieting possibilities. Chase told me that usually the game, when played with more than two people, takes a while – long after eyelids and the five senses and warmth have been eliminated – to get to such wrenching choices.

For as unsettling as I found Pancakes or Waffles, I encourage you to try it with some friends and see where you end up.

And if that leaves you sobbing, join the Flunking Sainthood Gratitude Challenge and come up with five things you’re grateful for. You’ll feel much better right away!


  1. KDA

    August 17, 2012

    Oh, that is a challenging game. I guess in some senses we play out these head-to-head choices as we move throughout our lives. I had a ton of things I’d never ever agree to, but when career was pitted against my kids’ sanity and my husband’s, I caved for them (and then found a new career that could exist in the remaining spaces. I said I’d never marry an oldest child, and I did. Never move to West Virginia or Kansas. And did. Now I have stopped saying I could never pick between waffles and pancakes and started saying “We’ll see.”

  2. Jendoop

    August 17, 2012

    I enjoyed Flunking Sainthood. Both of these games sound like nice thought/conversation provoking dinner-time entertainment for our family. Although we are a family of ‘taking forever to make a choice from the menu’ so this game will take all night!

  3. Melissa Y.

    August 17, 2012

    Wow, that game got hard fast! That would be fun to play with kids–I’m curious both about what they would choose and what they would juxtapose.

  4. Blue

    August 17, 2012

    that photo! now i’m hungry.

    Hunger or Thirst? (i’d want to just play the game with things like “roaches or spiders”. “spiders” “spiders or mosquitoes” etc., till I’d gotten rid of everything that vexes me) 🙂

  5. Catherine

    August 18, 2012

    Fun post and fun game!

  6. Catherine A.

    August 23, 2012

    Delightful post Linda. How did you like Flunking Sainthood? It’s on my to-read list.

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