While it’s unfortunate that in this country there’s only one day a year that’s designated to acknowledge how thankful we ought to be for whatever we have, it does afford us at least some time to reflect. Whether we have a lot or a little, we could have less. Sure, we could have more but the holiday is called Thanksgiving, not Greedy Thursday. Phrase it however you like – “half-empty vs. half-full,” “grateful for what we have vs. upset over what we don’t,” whatever your station in life – Thanksgiving is a day (and night) to ruminate on how we got to where we are and to show appreciation to those who helped get us there.
As someone who worked in college basketball, I had the “pleasure” of moving quite often. Like 17 times since I graduated college. The first 12 of those relocations were before I got married and, honestly, being fully aware of how much of a transient lifestyle it can be, was the main reason I waited to get married until I was almost 39 years old. Once I became an adult, I had three goals: I wanted to be a husband, a father and a Division I head basketball coach. As the saying goes, “two out of three ain’t bad.” Plus, if I was told I could only have two of three, those are the two I’d have picked. Got married in 1987, became a dad in ’89, and again in ’93. As far as health goes, the one of us with the most issues is me – which, if I was told one of the four of us was going to have multiple surgeries and experience chronic pain, is the one I’d have selected.
Jane is the poster girl for good health. Her diet is borderline perfect (not counting those extreme folks, e.g. vegetarians and the off-shoots of that type). She loves her classes (Pilates, kick boxing, sculpting and possibly others that escape me at the moment) and attends them faithfully. In addition, she always manages to get in her daily walk (her FitBit reminds her if she doesn’t). She retired when I did (2012) and we’ve enjoyed a great deal of travel ever since, e.g. a couple of places she’d never been (Oregon and New England), our second trip to Europe and vacation resort destinations like the Cabo, the Big Island and beach cities on both coasts. We even managed a Caribbean cruise – a first for her.
In terms of the “parent dictionary definition” of a child, #1 son, Andy, has been textbook, i.e. graduated from college in four years (UC-Irvine) and got a J-O-B immediately thereafter. He has no student loans (working while he matriculated helped) and he’s employed at his third different company (as an account executive), each move having been of his own volition, as well as each one being an upward move in the software sales industry. Although he can’t claim membership in the top 1% of wealthy Americans yet, he is off of the “family scholarship,” is living the life of a bachelor in Orange County, CA and getting by quite nicely, thank you.
Our younger son, Alex, is a senior at Cal State Monterey Bay and is one of the captains of the Otters basketball squad. He’s been a positive contributor to the program and is in the top 10 in career leaders in ten statistical categories, including currently being the second leading scorer in school history. He
had better will graduate in May with a degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing. Possibly, he’ll have a chance to continue playing basketball professionally overseas. If that doesn’t pan out (or when it finally does), a job in the business world (there are a couple opportunities he’s been angling for) should be waiting.
As I’m sure other every person with a mailing address experiences, I get 2-3 requests for donations daily. When I receive one that hits close to home, maybe a relative or close friend who has or has passed away from a dreaded disease, I’ll enclose a small gift. What’s annoying is that, in no less than two weeks, there will be another letter, from the same organization, asking for more money – and it seems that group has passed along my information to various other charities. If only the associations would give me some buffer time between overtures. And please don’t treat me as a target for their partners, mostly because I don’t know which organization is legit or which is a scam. There have been so many reports of “organizational or hidden costs” that are attached to some charities, well, I’d like to think that 100% of my donation goes to the charitable organization.
On Tuesday evening’s local news, I saw a story about an owner of a company who had one of his drivers deliver a truckload of turkeys to a homeless shelter. Great idea. First thing Wednesday, I went “shopping” for the biggest turkey I could find (you can’t believe how many people wait until the last minute to grocery shop for Thanksgiving dinner), paid for it and went directly to the Poverello House, a homeless center serving the hungry and homeless of Fresno and handed it to a very gracious worker there. When he asked me if I wanted a receipt, I declined. The reason, as flawed as any accountant will tell you it is, is that it seemed that getting a receipt would benefit me (albeit in a very small way) and I wanted the act to be completely for others less fortunate. If you think you have it rough, drive by one of those neighborhoods someday.
As far as our family Thanksgiving, only Andy could join us yesterday for a wonderful dinner prepared completely by Jane (hey, that right there was another thing for me to be thankful for). Alex was in Monterey practicing and enjoying Thanksgiving with the team. I give thanks for the three of them and, all things considered, how fortunate our lives have been. I certainly don’t mean to preach, but you should be grateful for your circumstance, too. No complaining. Why not? Well, here’s some advice I learned long ago (when I was a member of the National Speakers Association):
“Don’t tell people your problems. 80% don’t care and the other 20% are actually glad!”