Today, I am thankful for waking and breathing in the air, a thing we all too often take for granted. I am thankful for another day of opportunity – opportunity to reflect, to learn, to love, and to grow. I am grateful that, as a people, we set aside a day to remind ourselves that we have much to be grateful for, which is in essence to humble ourselves in the acknowledgement that everything we have is a gift from someone greater than ourselves who benevolently bestows it upon us.
I am thankful for my dear wife, who has chosen to stick with me through thick and thin, and for the opportunity, every day, to become a better husband, a better man, a better person. Lord knows I am not perfect. I am ever grateful to my wife for believing in me when I doubt myself, for encouraging me when I am fearful, for understanding when I am troubled, and for loving me in spite of my imperfections.
I am thankful for my son, our miracle child. I am thankful for the opportunity to be his father, to be an example in his life, to show him love. I am thankful to have witnessed his coming into the world and his growth and development as a person, to have learned the vast humility of my limited knowledge and experience before the infinite magnitude and mystery that is human life. I am thankful for my son’s health, for his keen mind, for his lively and well-rounded personality. I am thankful for the new perspective fatherhood continues to give me toward my own parents. I am grateful to have learned the sublime joy of being a father, and not anyone’s father, but my son’s father. I am thankful for the responsibility, and for the honor.
I am thankful for my parents, who I spent a lifetime misunderstanding and taking for granted. I am grateful that I have, and continue to have, the opportunity to show them my gratitude, respect and admiration – which they so well deserve. I am grateful for the tremendous family they bore and raised; for my eleven brothers and my two sisters; for the ties that bind us as a family, for the unspoken understandings we all have. I am thankful for dad’s sense of commitment and responsibility, and for his jurisprudence. I am thankful for mom’s overflowing love and tenderness, and for her shameless tears, be they sad or joyful. I am thankful for Bob and his dear wife and six children (in WI); for Dan and his dear wife and two children (in NV); for John and his dear wife and two children (in WI); for Tom and his dear wife and six children (in CA); for Mary Kay, who is now Sister Madeleine Marie of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Sacred Heart, (currently in Switzerland); for Tony and his dear wife and six children (in WI); for Theresa and her dear husband and two children (in FL); for Joe and his dear wife and two children (in WI); for Damien and his newly wedded bride; for Steve, who is on active duty in Afghanistan, and for the object of his affection, a dear young lady from Germany; for Sam, on the Western border of WI; and for Marty and Peter, the twins still at home with mom and dad. (I will be thankful if I have the numbers of nieces and nephews correct…) What a family I’ve been blessed with!
I am thankful for my in-laws, for my dear Mother- and Father-in-Law, whose generosity and understanding gave me new perspectives from which to view the world. I am thankful that they welcomed me into their family, that they welcomed me as a son, that I have never been made to feel an outsider. Ever. I am grateful for their family, for my brothers- and sisters-in-law, and for their own families. I am thankful for the selflessness of my mother- and father-in-law in their non-profit work. I am thankful for the examples they set for all of us, their children. I am thankful for the team of experts helping my mother-in-law fight cancer, for the technology available in fighting cancer, and for everyone who contributed to that development of that technology.
These things are but the tip of the iceberg. There is nothing that I have, or have had, whether material, spiritual, or as an experience, that I haven’t occasion to be thankful for. All things are gifts. All experiences are opportunity. And it is well and good, as a people, for us to set aside a Day of Thanksgiving, a day to remind ourselves what is a proper appreciation for all things and events in our life, a day to remind ourselves that all things are a bountiful gift, including life itself. That life is a veritable cornucopia of blessings.