Thankful on Thanksgiving and Beyond

Gratitude anchors us to the present moment. What I’m thankful for today may not be what I was thankful for yesterday or what I may be thankful for tomorrow. Still for me, thankfulness requires that I slow down and think about my blessings.

thankfulRecently my spirituality group was encouraged to list our blessings and to reflect on what matters most to us and what matters least. I was the only one who didn’t mention God. Not that I don’t think that God is important, I just didn’t single him (her) out. Instead I chose to list experiences for which I was and am and will always be thankful.

In retrospect, I see God in each of these experiences. That’s kind of how God and I operate. We tend to sneak up on one another. I’m not a “God is my co-pilot” kind of guy. I’m more of a “Hey God, you still out there?” “Remember me?” kind of guy.

Because I have been blessed with being accepted as part of a group of prayerful and spiritual believers, I was given the opportunity to acknowledge my blessings and was reminded once again to be eternally grateful for this life of mine. My friends cover me with their faith when my doubt is hanging out!

So here’s my list:

  • Our wedding day – As the sunlight pouring through the windows framed Deb as she walked down the aisle.
  • The birth of our son Tyson – and realizing how startlingly he looked like me.
  • The birth of our daughter Bess – when I said to Deb, “A girl!” “What’d we do now?” And the nurse chided me because she thought I didn’t want a daughter. I was thrilled, I just wasn’t prepared for a daughter. Everyone (including the doctor) had said it was another boy.
  • The birth of our son Blake – How the young nurse assumed that Blake was our first child because in her words, “You seem so happy!” And of course, we were! 
  • On Bess’ wedding day when she squeezed my arm and said, “Thanks Dad for everything, I feel like a princess today.”
  • The time that we toured Westminster Abbey for hours with our 3-year-old granddaughter Charlise, with all its beauty and amazing history, while she sat contentedly in her stroller and then as we left and we crossed the River Thames and she pointed excitedly and said “water”. That moment was pure unadulterated joy!
  • Conversations with my Uncle Ted (Deb’s uncle actually) and always hearing him say just before we hung up “Love you Bud!” I miss him every day.
  • Grandson Noah’s birth – While looking through the nursery window with Travis and 2-year-old Anna as an old man in a wheelchair approached and asked Anna if that was her brother. He asked her “Do you think I could get a baby brother?” She said, “Yes, but not this one!” She claimed him from day one.
  • Living in England for a year and feeling like at any moment someone might come up to us and call us out as frauds or impostors because we were just a couple of small town Midwesterners making it up as we went along.
  • Being with my Aunt Gene near her death. Watching as a sense of peacefulness came over her. I will never forget the gentleness and love given her by her nurse. It took the fear of death away.
  • Being kissed goodnight and told I’m loved every single day.

So God has been there all along in each of these moments and countless many more. This Thanksgiving I am thankful. I was thankful before and will be thankful again. And again.





What Matters Most Is The Thanks

I’m a sucker for tradition. I love old movies. I love family folklore. I want to believe that “the way” we do things at Thanksgiving is the way generations before us celebrated as well. I love the fact that Deb shares the same need for traditional holiday gatherings (with some southern country flair compliments of her beloved Mimi). We’ve blended our family traditions and created some new ones of our own. So on Thanksgiving there will be turkey and dressing and candied sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts and cranberries and pumpkin pie – just like the Pilgrims (well at least in my revisionist history of the First Thanksgiving anyway).

But it has occurred to me that none of that really matters. How can you celebrate Thanksgiving WITHOUT turkey? Or Stuffing? Or Sweet Potatoes? Or Cranberries? Or God Forbid – Pumpkin Pie???

We have dear friends that have traveled east to visit family and celebrate an ‘Italian Thanksgiving’ complete with lasagna.  My cousin Colleen who lives in Thailand can’t get pumpkin for a pie this year. Our son Ty is stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea and will likely be eating in a mess hall and missing Mom’s special recipes. And millions of folks will be having Thanksgiving pizza, sub sandwiches, burgers or God-knows-what. And they’re (we’re) the lucky ones. Millions more will be starving.

But those of us that can give thanks, should. We should be thankful for one another. Thankful for love. Thankful for a full belly. And a place to lay our heads. Thankful for a God that provides light even in our darkest hours.

There is certainly no shortage of pain or heartache or suffering in our world. And perhaps you’re suffering, too. For me Thanksgiving this year is a little bittersweet; feeling especially melancholy about the separation next year from family and friends (especially my grandkids). Yesterday I was feeling down and then I received a Thanksgiving card in the mail from my cousin Rose. Just a simple thing but it immediately lifted my spirits. And for that I am thankful – thankful to be loved and to be part of a family that remembers to share their love. Thanks Rose, you’ll never know how much I needed your note!

So tomorrow I will remember to give thanks for all my blessings. And I know that it won’t matter if Thanksgiving dinner isn’t perfect in every way (everywhere) because it’s the sharing that matters not the meal that is shared.



Give Thanks

Every year as a nation Americans pause on the last Thursday of November to give thanks. For many of us this is really just a day to enjoy turkey, pumpkin pie and football. And for that I’m thankful, too. But this year I have so much more for which to be thankful. I’d like to thank God for all of my blessings. 

Here goes:

  • Thank you for my beautiful wife of 35 years who gives more than she ever receives (even though I try).
  • Thank you for my children who will always be my babies even though they are adults.
  • Thank you for my grandchildren – they are my greatest joy and hope for the future!
  • Thank you for my son-in-law who is not only another son but my friend and my brother in Christ.
  • Thank you for my siblings who help keep me grounded and remind me of the importance of family.
  • Thank you for my parents who are examples of married love and devotion.
  • Thank you for my in-laws, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles and all other family members – you fill my life with love and kindness.
  • Thank you for my friends who have carried me many times when I have lost my way.
  • Thank you for employment, my co-workers and my cherished customers and business partners who are my extended family.
  • Thank you for a good home, good health and a full belly.
  • Thank for my faith; for Your Son and for my community of believers.
  • And thanks for the shitty stuff, too. It makes the good stuff somehow seem even better.
  • And thank you God for all the many blessings that I take for granted each day.

My wish is for each of you to have a beautiful Thanksgiving and a moment to reflect on all of your blessings, too.