The struggles make me stronger
And the changes make me wise
— Gary Allan, “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful”
Tomorrow we head south to California’s Central Valley to spend the long holiday weekend with family. It’s a triple dipper for us: Not only Thanksgiving, but also Hanukkah and my father’s 80th birthday celebration.
I never know what to expect at these family events. Both my sisters will be there. My relationship with one of them consists of an occasional text. The other one I haven’t had any contact with in six years.
If you imagine that I may be feeling some trepidation, you’re right. I truly look forward to spending time with the clan and I just hope that the yelling and the arguments will be kept to a minimum. I know, I’m dreaming.
Sigh. Okay, on goes the smiley face. And as I attempt to assume a positive attitude, this seems to be a good time to enumerate a few of the things for which I am thankful this year. An exhaustive list would take a lifetime to compile. But here are some of the things for which I am feeling grateful today:
1. I am thankful for being blessed with a loving wife who inexplicably puts up with my nonsense, year in and year out.
2. I am grateful for being surrounded by family every day, and particularly for the precious time I regularly spend with my niece, nephews and grandniece.
3. I am grateful that I continue to be a beneficiary of the advice and wisdom of both my parents as they enter their eighth decade.
4. I am grateful that, even in unemployment, we have been able to keep food in our bellies, shoes on our feet, a roof over our heads and gasoline in our tanks. I am humbled to have lately been schooled in the economics of the extended family.
5. I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to obtain a good education that has helped me to think critically and to understand our rapidly changing world.
6. I am grateful to live in the information age. And yes, I am thankful for my iPhone and my laptop.
7. I am grateful that I have been spared all manner of suffering: That I am not dying in a hospital somewhere, lonely in a nursing home, homeless and begging for nickels on a street corner or a soldier missing family while serving in the mountains of Afghanistan.
8. I am grateful for the joy of music and sunsets and thick dictionaries and haiku and lemon iced tea and homemade soup.
9. I am thankful for the opportunity to worship God as I see fit.
10. I am grateful for random acts of kindness, both in the giving and the receiving. It is the encouraging word and the gentle touch that makes life worth living.
11. I give thanks to all of you, my readers, for your encouragement and for helping to make this blog successful.
12. I am grateful that I have the freedom to write this list and to share it with the world.
At this holiday season, please remember to share your many blessings with those who are not as fortunate as yourself. Someone out there needs you.
With wishes for a joyful and safe Thanksgiving to all.