Being thankful on Thanksgiving

After a very quiet few years on this blog I’ve felt compelled to write again. I go through times where writing isn’t even a faint blip on the radar of my life. I also go through times where writing is my escape, my way of looking beyond where I am into a place where perhaps I’d rather be. And then I go through time where I want to write but can’t muster up the words I need to convey the reason behind my desire to write. Regardless, today is one of those days where I feel the desire to write so I shall let the words flow.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that, to me, really shouldn’t be a single day in the year as much as it should be a lifestyle. In any given day I have an abundance of reasons to be thankful, as most everyone is, yet I don’t bring attention to either the reason or the thanks that I have for it. What makes a single day so special that suddenly all of the things that I have been thankful for all year long are now all of a sudden worthy of finally receiving those thanks? Seems to me that there is something wrong with that. Of course I am talking about myself here, so please don’t take these words to be some form of judgment cast upon you or any of that. I’m just trying to resolve some of the thoughts I have had the past weeks leading up to today. Thoughts like “If the people in your life you loved the most were gone tomorrow, would they know today how thankful you are for them?”. Or thoughts like “When you are called to do a task, as much as you don’t want to do the task, are you thankful that you are breathing, have strength, can walk and move freely, and are well able to perform the task?”

While some of us are thankful for the tangible “things” in our lives – iPods and cars and large TVs and big, comfy houses – I believe there are others that are thankful for the much smaller, and to many, more insignificant, of things. Things like a warm jacket on a cold night or a bite to eat that fills a painfully empty stomach or a visit from a child that hasn’t been seen for months. As I look on the abundance that I take for granted every day I feel like I am kinda missing the mark on Thanksgiving, like perhaps my focus is off or I am simply looking at the wrong things. While I am thankful that I have an awesome job I get to go to everyday, driving my newer model car to the office listening to the music on my iPhone along the way, there are people that are thankful today that they have shoes. Just shoes. Maybe not even newer shoes. Just shoes.

So on this day of giving thanks I hope that I can maintain perspective. Don’t get me wrong, please. I do NOT apologize for doing well for myself or my family. I am thankful that I have been blessed with a provider mentality and that I CAN provide nicely for my loved ones. No, the perspective I am hoping for stems beyond that, to the core of my family and, more importantly, to the core of my life. When I sit around the dinner table tonight I will definitely be thankful for the abundant supply of food and drink before me. But my greater thanks will be for the family that sits before me.

I will be thankful for my daughters and my son, who daily show me many reasons for being thankful. I will be thankful to their mother, who has shown me so much more than I could have ever expected about relationship, parenting, love, patience and diligence. And I will likewise be thankful to her family for opening their home to my family and for always being so welcoming and inviting.

I will also be thankful for my parents – God rest their souls – for raising me to be the man that I am today while I was still yet young. And I will be thankful for my brother and sister who, when my father and then later my mother went to be with God, took up the reigns without needing to be asked to see to it that I would one day become the man that I was destined to be.

I will be thankful for my many long standing friends that have shown me recently what true friendship is all about over the long haul. And I will be thankful for my new friends that have so filled my life with love and warmth in recent years.

I will be thankful for memories of Thanksgivings past, of times spent roughhousing with my cousins at nine o’clock in the evening in a muddy front yard and of times spent trying to get the kids ready to go to two different houses in four hours on a cold afternoon.

I will be thankful for the years to come, the days to come, in which more memories will be made, more time will be spent and more love will be shown. I will be thankful for the future as well as the present, and for the past that it may ever move me forward to better things.

Today, and every day, I will remember the reasons to give thanks and I will give thanks for them. Not because it is Thanksgiving. No, I will give thanks simply because I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Another thanksgiving is upon us. It seems in recent years that we are cycling through holidays at breakneck speed, never being able enjoy any one particular holiday because the next holiday is already up in stores or being advertised on the Internet. This saddens me, especially at thanksgiving time, since we often times neglect the spirit of giving thanks for the rush of acquiring more crap on the morning after.

Being thankful is something I’ve tried to teach my kids for a while now. It’s also something I’ve tried to live my life by as well, although I am nowhere near perfect at it so inevitably I overlook something I should be thankful for, usually in favor of being cranky about something else. This past 12 months it has been way easier to count my curses than it has been to count my blessings. But I’ve had a quiet last few weeks, time that I’ve been able to spend thinking about my life and the many blessings that surround me daily.

While the past year has been challenging, the blessings in my life have shown themselves to me clearly. Among these blessings are the tangibles and the intangibles, the valuable and the invaluable. Although I’m sure I’m forgetting many, it would be silly of me not to at least try to address the more prominent blessings in my life.

  • My kids – My children have been the greatest blessing to me and continue to be. Not a day goes by that I am not totally and completely amazed by them in some way. Whether it be their creative outward expressions or their tender, sincere, loving hearts toward me and their siblings, I’m reminded everyday of just how powerful a blessing my children are.
  • My family – My family has shown me this past year just what love is and to just what lengths they will go in order to care for me and my kids. When I say “my family” I am most definitely talking about my blood family (my brother, my sister, my cousins, my nieces and my nephews). But I am also talking about my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my sisters-in-law and my brothers-in-law. My entire family seemed to rally around my immediate family this year and even through the hardest of times have stayed by my side.
  • My friends – I’d like to think that everyone has friends. And although I have a crapload of friends on Facebook and Twitter, I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand. But this year my closest friends really showed themselves. They came out of the woodwork to encourage me, make me laugh and generally just have my back. I don’t know where I’d be on this thanksgiving if not for my friends reaching out to me, talking to me and listening to me. You know who you are. I just hope you know how thankful I am for you.
  • My possessions – I know that stuff is just stuff, but I count among my stuff the basic necessities of life: a house, a car, electricity, running water, etc. Yes, I also include toys and gadgets in my “stuff” (I mean who doesn’t love their phone) but being able to keep my kids warm, fed, clothed and sheltered is a tremendous blessing to me.
  • My skills – I love being a nerd. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. What started out at a hobby for me has blossomed into a career. A well paying, lucrative career. I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with an inquisitive mind and a passion for learning, and that I can leverage that into a skill set that continues to provide for my children.
  • My health – I’ve worked hard to get myself healthy. I’ve worked hard to stay healthy. I’m blessed to say that I don’t need medication everyday just to live and that I can experience life with my children with energy, fervor and passion, never missing a thing with them because “daddy doesn’t feel like it today kids”.
  • My struggles – Anyone that knows me knows that I like to push myself to achieve things that I might not be able to achieve under normal circumstances. And most folks that know me know that I’m not one to get smacked on the chin without swinging back. This year has shown this more clearly than any other. The struggles came in droves this year, each one presenting a new challenge, a new problem that needed a new and different way to approach it. To say that this past year was trying would be minimizing what actually took place. Still, through each of the struggles came an equally rewarding victory and a promise of a brighter future. And for that I am immeasurably blessed.
  • My failures – If there was one thing I can say I am more blessed by this year than last year it would have to be my realization of my own imperfection and my coming to grips with many of my behaviors, attitudes and actions that have led to failure in many areas of my life. It’s been said that if you want to continue to get the same results of your actions simply keep doing the same thing. I realized this year that I did not want to keep getting the same results in life I’ve always gotten and that in order to change course I had to take a deep look within myself to identify those areas of myself that may have been preventing my own success. That has been painful to say the least, but it has also been an indescribable blessing in that for the first time in my life I’ve come face to face with many of my shortcomings and have been able to begin rectifying them. Change is good, even if it is uncomfortable.

There is so much more that I should be thankful for. But as I sit behind the keys staring at the emptiness of what will soon become the last few lines of this post, I’m reminded that I have a house full of kids that need their daddy’s attention and affection. And that is a blessing I can no longer pass up.

Happy thanksgiving. May this holiday season be a blessing to you and may it open you up to be a blessing to others.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe that we are almost done with the first decade of our century. Even more strange to me is that we are within a month or so of 2009 coming to an end as a year. If I didn’t know better I’d say someone pushed the fast forward button on life toward the beginning of February and left it there until yesterday. And as I take a moment to look back on the year, and especially the day we are celebrating today, I can’t help but begin to think about some of the things I am thankful for.

Being thankful is not something that is reserved for one day a year in my house. In fact, it is something that I have tried to instill in my family through nightly “thankfuls” and through regular giving of thanks. It is a lifestyle that I think everyone should live lest we become bitter, cynical and “victimized” by circumstance. So for me and my house it is rather easy to recognize those things that I can be thankful for.

For example, I woke up early this morning and got out of bed to make a pot of coffee for my wife and I, and took a moment for myself to read my email, write a little in my blog and warm my legs with a little red fleece blanket. I was watching my dog sleep for a little while until my daughter Adriannah woke up, joined me in the living room, greeted me with a hug and kiss and began to watch TV.

In just the first few minutes of the day today I am thankful for:

  • A beautiful, smart, funny, warm, loving wife
  • An awesome tribe of beautiful, smart, talented children
  • Having a home for my family
  • Everyone in my family having a bed to sleep in
  • Running water
  • Coffee
  • Cups to drink our coffee from
  • Having a working computer
  • The internet
  • Email
  • Warm blankets
  • Wonderful, smart, loving, caring, beautiful children that love me
  • Hugs and kisses
  • A great dog
  • A TV
  • Electicity

Now of course these are more of the tangible variety of thankfuls. Still, these are all things I am thankful for just within the first few minutes of my day. There are so many other things to be thankful that extend beyond the tangible, like:

  • Not having to go to work today
  • Sharing today with family and friends
  • Having the freedom and liberty that comes from living in the United States of America
  • Being protected both at home and abroad by the most awesome of protectors ever, the US military
  • Worshiping how I want, when I want and with whom I want
  • The freedom and ability to have an opinion, and voice that opinion

The abundance of thankfuls in my life always seem to extend beyond the limits of one day a year. And while I am thankful for today and what it represents, I would offer this challenge to you: For the next 365 days, until next Thanksgiving day, see if you can find one thing every day to be thankful for and share that thankfulness with someone.

If you are anything like me, no matter how heavy life gets on you, you will always have something to be thankful for. May God bless you abundantly this day and all the days of your life.