Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kline Online's Annual Thanksgiving Post 2013

Man what a year. I was promoted at work, sold my first ever speech for real money, shot ducks in Arkansas, caught speckled trout in Louisiana, had another record year for blog hits (despite being about half as productive, blog-wise, as 2012), got my Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins University and most fantastically, I became a dad. Its pretty incredible when you stop and think about it that, in the space of a year, you go from thinking kids are a possibility some time in the future, to two of them being a a very real and very loud reality. For all of these reasons, and a bunch of others, 2013 has been a very cool year.

There is obviously lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, close family, good friends, a warm home in a beautiful place, but I would be remiss if I didn't thank the one person who makes my life as good as it is, my wife Kim. She is an amazing human being, with reserves of patience that are just astounding. When the kids are screaming, often in unison, and often at 3 in the morning, it is enough to drive even the most centered person around the bend; but Kim hangs in, rocking and soothing Alex and Emily understandingly. She lives a life these days that is never more than a minute away from complete meltdown, times two, of course, and she does it with an aplomb that causes a more mortal person, like myself, to pause in wonderment.

This summer, when we were talking about ways of cutting back on the family budget to prepare for the arrival of Alex and Emily, I mentioned giving up my hunting leases, not insignificant (nor wholly necessary) expenditures. Kim wouldn't hear of the idea, and in the process of telling me to keep my leases, uttered the words that every hunter in all of the world hopes to hear from their significant other, "I want you to hunt." Maybe this was her way of having me out of the house on Saturday mornings from November through the end of January, but I suspect it was her completely selfless desire to let me continue doing something that made me happy. What it has succeeded in doing, is making me think of her every time I look out over a decoy spread.

As I sit here writing this, a superfluous undertaking if there ever was one, my wife has managed to bake several batches of cookies; the children are generally content; the house is almost done being decorated for the holidays. I have only managed to sneak a dollop of cookie dough from the bowl. I can't help but think this is what Martha Stewart would be like if she were a real person. Meanwhile, it takes all the energy I can muster to get up and load the woodstove. I am not entirely sure that I have ever done anything to deserve having this kind of woman in my life, but I am sure glad that I do have her. If our kids turn out to be functioning and contributing members of society, that society will have their mother to thank. If they know the ins and outs of Richard Nixon's environmental policies, well, then you can thank me. Or blame me, whichever you prefer.    

I am also thankful for my sister, Jenn, who has always been a huge part of my life, and has become a huge part of the life of my kids. She decided not to have her own, but she has fallen in love with Alex and Emily in a way that is extraordinarily special to watch. I could not believe any more strongly that ties to family are essential in life, and it is so important to me to have family involved in the lives of Alex and Emily. Aside from Kim, Aunt Jenny is my best friend, and she's the most genuine person you could know. Like her younger brother, you don't have to wonder what she's thinking...she'll let you know.

Waiting for my commuter bus one morning, outside, and not far away from the boat launch at Kent Narrows (yes, I pick up my bus in a rather scenic locale), blustery winds and a sharp chill were in the air. I looked around at my fellow commuters, grimacing and bundled up tight, and thought, these poor, timid, souls, have never watched as a group of diver ducks skirt the decoys, wings cupped. They've never watched a group of ten Canada Geese circle over a field decoy spread, twice, three times, four times, growing ever-lower, until they finally commit, feet down, wings locked, right into the hole. They've never watched the woods come to life sitting in a tree stand. I was the only idiot in the group who, full face exposed to the cold, took a deep breath and smiled. This will get those birds moving, I thought, perhaps out loud. "You like this weather??" came from a scarfed legal secretary. "No, I don't like it, I love it, it will get the birds moving." She looked at me like I was a bird. 

I am thankful that I get to live in this special place, where the seasons are marked by outdoor pursuits, the folks in my neighborhood know my name, and wave to me when they walk or drive by. I did not grow up on the Eastern Shore, but I am thankful that I will have the opportunity to raise my kids in this place, that they can learn the ways of the world at a slower pace than they might in other places, maybe take a little longer to grow up. 

The fire is aglow in the woodstove, my glass is full of bourbon, my wife is in the rocking chair beside me reading, and the kids are upstairs snoring. In these few moments of peace and quiet, it is nice to reflect on the immense blessings that life has given me this year, and many years past. In a world of serial complainers, I can sit in these moments and think that the best we can ever hope to do, is find contentment in that which is most common, the warm and joyous blessings of the everyday. 

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