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 that 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 Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. (In case you didn’t know, Thanksgiving beats the crap 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. This year I am particularly thankful that after three semester of remote, hybrid, and hyflex teaching that this semester my classes have been 100% in person. With masks on, but it still beats looking at squares on Zoom. I’m hopeful that next semester masks will be optional rather than mandatory.
I am thankful that my favorite sports season–college basketball–is now underway. I am especially thankful that after a year of no fans in the stands, the games are being played in front of real people instead of cardboard cutouts. It promises to be an exciting year for my Providence Friars (notice that, in the spirit of all good sports fans, they are mine), and dreams of a run in the NCAA tournament are dancing in Friar fans’ heads. But, of course, I say that five or six games into every Friars season. Hope always spring eternal.
I am thankful that next month Jeanne and I will spend Christmas with sons Justin and Caleb and daughter-in-law Alisha on a cruise! This will be Jeanne’s and my first cruise ever, so here’s hoping that a good time is had by all. I am thankful that Caleb and Alisha continue to rock the tattooing and art world, and am in awe of their commitment to their transformed identities as a marathon runner (Caleb) and triathlete (Alisha). 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 (actually, Jeanne had more to do with that than I did).
I am so thankful for Bovina, our two-month-old Corgi puppy who has brightened and brought joy to our lives ever since we transported her in an eighteen-hour straight drive from Atlanta to Providence three weeks ago. When our dachshund Winnie died in August, Caleb and Alisha immediately set the wheels in motion to make Bovina possible in our lives, even though she was not even born yet. Their generosity helped to fill the gap left by Winnie with anticipation for our first puppy. I’m also thankful for everyone who has put up with the barrage of puppy pictures I’ve been posting on social media! I no longer need to feel guilty when I notice that the house is a mess.
This was yet another year of transition for my youngest son Justin—but a transition that he is very grateful for. He has now been working for a few months in western Colorado as a mental health crisis co-responder, working in partnership with law enforcement officials when they come into contact with persons with suspected mental illness or a substance use disorder. I am thankful that he has found work that is truly worthy of his training, education, diligence, expertise, and heart of compassion. I find it highly offensive that Justin celebrated his fortieth birthday three days ago (because it makes me feel old). It’s all about me, after all.
I am thankful for this blog which has, for more than nine years, provided me with a space to track an ongoing spiritual awakening that is as welcome as it was unexpected. Writing is my central spiritual practice, and blogging ensures that I do it regularly. Thanks to all who have been regular or occasional readers. I started with a few dozen readers per month—I never anticipated that eventually thousands of people would visit this site monthly. Thank you for your comments and discussion participation, even when it is somewhat less than complimentary. It keeps me humble and on my toes!
I am thankful that thirty-four years ago this week, on 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.
Finally, in spite of my continuing disbelief and dismay at our dysfunctional and polarized political process, as well as the astoundingly horrible things my fellow citizens say and do to each other, 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, judgmental, and 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!