A Heartfelt Thanks!

What are we thankful for? We ask ourselves this question this time of year, followed by the normal, go-to, easy answer about how we’re thankful for our families or our health or something generic, good enough to cover all of our bases.

What am I really thankful for? I imagined myself on some cheesy game show and I had to answer that question but got points taken away from me for choosing the safe and obvious answers. What would I say?

So I compiled a list in no particular order. Here it goes.

  1. I’m thankful to be a #2 sibling. God knows that first-borns have it rough. I had the luxury of learning right and wrong from my older brother, Steve, and he’ll never know how much I appreciate him for that.
  1. I am thankful that I live in the United States. High profile actors to park squatters without a clue have beaten this country to a pulp. We’re not perfect. But I dare them to go to a third world country to see what real problems are. An image of an emaciated African boy no older than 5 comes to mind; he’s staring inside a shallow grave where his younger brother lies.
  1. I am thankful for my elderly neighbors a few houses down from mine. They have no clue who I am nor will they ever know how refreshing and hopeful they make me feel when I see them walk down the street at a turtle’s pace, he with a walker and a mini oxygen tank and she with Betty White hair. Every time I hear sirens screaming down the block I think about my neighbors and hope those sirens pass our street.
  1. I’m thankful for the men and women who serve our country and for the families that will be incomplete this Thanksgiving. I trained with many of these brave people, some of them were just days out of high school. Words can’t describe how even a simple letter in the mail to a soldier is enough to make his or her day.
  1. If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers you’re thankful that they’re still not below .500.
  1. I’m thankful for those who take risks and put their talents out there for everyone to enjoy as well as ridicule. A friend of a friend’s cousin (or something like that), who was a musician named Randy Ponzio, was found dead in Vancouver a few days ago. One of the things he used to say, according to a newspaper article on Monday, was “‘I know my music will not change the world, but I know my music will change someone’s moment.” At the end of the day, that’s all we can strive to do with our creative work and I thank Randy for reminding me of that. May he rest in peace.
  1. Along the same token I’m thankful for the people who read and subscribe to this blog project of mine and enjoy it enough to pass along to their friends. And I am especially thankful for those who have purchased my book, Night Rhythms, with my buddy Marco Saenz. Writers give a peace of themselves every time the “send” button is pressed or when kids hear you read to them. It’s personal. Anyone who writes basically has homework every night. A thousand thanks to all of you!
  1. For comedy’s sake, I am thankful for the Republican Presidential Nominee pool. Somehow, I know Barack Obama is thankful for the same thing. Right now he’s thinking, “Seriously? Newt’s leading the poll? Newt?”

I took a dinner break from the list; my daughters and I were slurping spaghetti, talking and laughing with tomato sauce grins. We talked about how much we were looking forward to Thanksgiving, the time off of work and school and, of course, football. With my list in mind, I posed the question to Cameron, our 14-year-old daughter:

“What are you most thankful for?”

Before she could answer I explained that my only rule was that she couldn’t say that she was thankful for her family. Cameron thought about it for a moment, but quickly had an answer that made me proud.

“I’m thankful for the lifestyle I get to live.”

And there you have it: proof that I’m not screwing her up. And for that, I am extremely thankful.

From my family to yours, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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