Friday, November 25, 2011

Closing Windows. Opening Doors.

I was born on Thanksgiving morning thirty years ago. I often say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and some assume that is because of the proximity of my birthday. But I like Thanksgiving because it is a celebration of family, of togetherness and of warm spirits. It also happens to fall during my favorite time of year, autumn, and at the confluence of a variety of hunting seasons that give me good excuse to be outside enjoying brisk weather and good company.

This year was my third year cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and I enjoy it thoroughly. After a morning goose hunting with my dad and my good friend Neal Jackson, it just felt right to be in the kitchen, with some good music and great conversation. I remember yesterday, and every other Thanksgiving with a smile.

Tomorrow I turn 30. I am not the kind of person to wax nostalgic or seek to say something especially profound. I tend not to get overly sentimental about these types of things, and that will remain the case with this blog post, or so I hope.

But Kim's grandfather, who I have come to adore as my own in the six years we've been together is not well. He puts on a brave face, smiles and laughs heartily, and in his company you do not always remember that cancer is eating him alive. But from time to time, just for a second or so, the reality sinks in that life is fleeting, for some of us -known in some cases, unknown in others- more quickly than we might like. We have so much to be thankful for, and we are not always so great about letting others know how we feel. Perhaps if we all made a better effort to carry forth the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the year, we could improve the quality of our lives. Not end wars or solve the worlds problems mind you, but maybe find the antidote to the comparatively minor things that often stand in the way of meaningful happiness.

I am of course thankful for my wife Kim, who frankly makes life worth living, good days and bad. In a world full of people perfectly willing to let you down and disappoint, Kim is the exception that proves the rule. For her love and company, I count myself among the very luckiest of God's creation. My dad Bill and sister Jenn have long been the solid foundation on which a successful and happy life have been built, in their own separate ways they offer a unique structure of support that is light on sap but heavy on strength, my victories are as much their victories. I hope my dad retires soon, and enjoys good health as he embarks upon filling his days with the things he really likes doing. I hope that I get to spend more time with the both of them over the coming years. Over the coming year, I must also make things right with my own mother, my separation from whom has grown to proportions that I neither expected nor desired; she can expect a phone call from me one soon evening.

Over the past few years, Kim and I have made a concerted effort to reduce the materialism in our lives. We have given up gifts at Christmas and birthdays, and lead the type of life heavy on content, light on fluff. Home is the place we prefer to Black Friday shopping, and books and board games beat out television most nights of the week. We have come to discover that, for us at least, togetherness is what life is all about, not stock markets or elections. It is a simple life, really, a quiet life spent among the few people who I can count on not to let me down; we don't preach about it, we don't encourage others to live the life we live, it is simply what we have found works for us. Good luck to all similar families searching for the right recipe.

It is possible that this is a defense mechanism on my part, against a world that has gone, in my view, incredibly awry. I do not want to close my eyes to the goings on of the world, but I have increasingly found that what is most important is what happens within the four walls of my own home. I don't imagine that the state of things will much improve in my lifetime, at least not without a Renaissance of the human spirit and a collective dulling of the razor-sharp blades of partisanship, so I will seek to make a difference where I can, starting with my own friends and family.

But especially important this Thanksgiving to Bill Fales, 'Poppy' as he is affectionately called around our place, thanks for sharing some very special moments with me over the past six years. Never before have I been welcomed into a family with such open arms as yours, and I fully anticipate returning the favor in your own hours of need, whenever they arrive.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. God bless you all.

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