I wasn’t even aware I was coming down with something before it hit me a few days before Thanksgiving. After some careful self-examination, I realized I was suffering from a malady that’s been going on ever since the first prehistoric dad shoved his kids out of the cave. It’s called The Parent/Poultry Paradox. Put simply, it’s the result of hoping our children our will go out into the world and live rich, independent lives, but also wanting them to instantly reappear at our tables every time we cook a large bird.
Our kids are far away, and everyone had plans and commitments this year, so no one was going to be able to be at our house for Thanksgiving except the two of us, plus a bachelor brother-in-law. While not precisely depressed about the state of things, I was, no doubt, feeling just a little sorry for myself when the mail came on the Monday before the holiday. Tucked among the mound of bills and advertising flyers, was a hand-addressed envelope bearing my name. Inside was a beautiful Thanksgiving card, and inside that, an orange sheet of paper.
“Congratulations, John,” was the heading of a note from a friend saying I was the winner of her family’s annual “Turkey-Day Thank You” award. The award, she explained, was something she had created when her children were young. One line in her note especially stood out: “we are all so blessed with everyday people being their everyday selves and enriching our everyday lives with their presence.”
This year, I was the winner.
I’m not going to tell you her name, for fear of embarrassing her and revealing her quiet, private spirit of generosity. But I will tell you that she chose me because she receives some small measure of enjoyment because of what I write in this column each week.
It made me feel good.
And it made me think about all the people and things I have to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for a wife and family that loves and supports me without hesitation.
I’m grateful for a loving God and a church family that shares the joy of His presence in our lives.
I was gratified by the sight of an entire classroom of Irving School third graders who showed up at a Thanksgiving music performance I did wearing feathers, which reaffirmed my belief that the Native Americans were the true heroes of Thanksgiving, while the pilgrims were simply lucky bystanders.
I was grateful for the 109 hand-made thank you cards I received from the Irving kids, making it the best-paid gig I’ve ever played.
I’m thankful for living in a country where we can be different...and live together all the same.
I’m grateful for our farmers.
I’m happy to live in a small town where an early Christmas celebration is still a big deal and a lot of fun. I was pretty darn grateful for the nice weather, too.
I’m thankful for the dedicated athletes and coaches who make the sportswriter part of my job a joy to do.
I’m glad I’m not Tiger Woods.
I am entirely grateful for the warm friendships I share on Wednesday noons with the Grandpa’s Club and on Thursday nights with the friends of Jan.
I’m grateful for all my creative, artistic friends and associates, and to all those who show up to watch, look, listen and enjoy.
I appreciate a Star Courier newsroom staff that has been welcoming and patient as I’ve pursued this “second career” of mine.
I owe gratitude to a brave, cheerful group of fellow cancer survivors (the “reluctant brotherhood” of Us TOO) who have taught me that it’s not over until it’s over, and that each day is worth living and loving.
I’m grateful to the kids I know, including grandchildren and Godchildren, who work to keep me young.
Thanks to the friend/reader who occasionally emails me with her thoughts and shared memories based on the things I write. Thanks, too, to those others who have written or simply stop me on the street to let me know what they think about what I’m doing.
I am, indeed, thankful, as that Thanksgiving note said, for all those “everyday people being their everyday selves and enriching our everyday lives with their presence.”
This list could--and should--continue, as I have many other things to be grateful for. But let me end it with one more. Because I really am grateful to you. There wouldn’t be columns--or newspapers, in fact--without people who read and think and wonder and respond.
So thanks. Thanks to all of you.