I have a Facebook acquaintance, a fellow graduate of St. John’s College, who posts five things she is thankful for every morning. I admire this and am always glad when I bump into her daily post on those mornings I’m on Facebook as well. It is a practice that I have told myself many times that I need to develop, but have so far have failed to do.
But as we approach the best holiday of the year, let me instead list a few of the things that I am thankful for on this Monday of Thanksgiving week. (In case you didn’t know, Thanksgiving beats the shit out of Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, the Fourth of July, and every other holiday that gets more hype and promotion.) In no particular order, here are some things I am thankful for.
I am thankful that I work in a profession that I love, a profession that is a vocation rather than a job, something that I believe I was born to do. I am thankful that in this profession I occasionally get paid to not come to campus and teach, and that it is one of the few occupations in which I could get away with having a ponytail for the past many years.
I am thankful that my favorite sports season–college basketball–is now underway. It promises to be a banner year for my Providence Friars (notice that, in the spirit of all good sports fans, they are mine), and dreams of the Sweet Sixteen or more are dancing in Friar fans’ heads. But, of course, I say that five or six games in to every Friars season. Hope always spring eternal.
I am thankful that next month Jeanne and I will get to spend Christmas with sons Justin and Caleb and daughter-in-law Alisha at Caleb and Alisha’s place in Atlanta. I am thankful that Caleb and Alisha continue to rock the world of tattooing, and am in awe of their commitment to their new identities as marathon runners. Jeanne and I take full credit for Caleb’s success as an artist, since we are the ones who found the art classes and lessons for him when he was but a young punk.I am thankful that Winnie, the last-dog-standing of the canine triumvirate who spent a decade entertaining us and making our lives better, is still with us. She’s getting older and has surgery coming sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she’s still her odd, unique, and dachshund self. She has given Jeanne and me many years of joy–may there be many more.
This was a year of many transitions for my youngest son Justin. I am thankful that he loves his new job in Arizona, that he has relocated to such a beautiful place, and that his inherent strength and resilience continues to sustain him as he grows into his new life. Justin’s birthday was last Wednesday; I find it highly offensive that he is now thirty-eight years old (because it makes me feel old). It’s all about me, after all.
I am thankful for the spiritual awakening that has been happening with me over the past several years. Although it is usually incremental and almost unnoticeable day to day, I am a very different person than I used to be. Sometimes I feel like the patients in the Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro film “Awakenings” from a number of years back.
I am thankful that exactly thirty-two years ago today, the day before Thanksgiving 1987, my sons and I met the person who changed our lives. After all these years, I still can’t believe that I got the little red-haired girl.
In spite of my continuing and increasing disbelief at our political process and dysfunction, as well as the astoundingly horrible things my fellow citizens say and do, I am thankful that I live in this country. I’m hoping that a strong dose of turkey tryptophan on Thursday will help turn us from the fearful, xenophobic people I do not recognize into the welcoming and generous people that I know we can be.
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and I challenge you to make a list of at least ten things you are thankful for, unrestricted by anything you want to complain about!