It’s Time to Give Thanks
In this bizarre year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, things don’t seem right anymore – and it seems, sometimes, that the world will never be the same again. And perhaps for those of us who are older and who have lived decades – it may never be the way it used to be. Whoever dreamed we’d ever see people walking around with masks covering their noses and mouths – and keeping away from family members just to keep them safe? I never imagined the world could be so completely turned upside down.
So, sometimes these days, it really doesn’t seem like I have a lot to be thankful for.
The trouble with getting older is everything you remember is painted with the brushes of the past. Those brushes, the echoes, and reflections of the past color everything I do today. And sometimes the colors of my memories of moments long past are dull and lifeless and even forlorn – if you can even imagine such colors.
It’s hard to imagine, but I’m sure that when the moments now in my memory were being made the colors were bright, dazzling, vibrant, and eye-catching. The grass was greener, the autumn leaves were redder, the sky was bluer, the sun was brighter, the days were longer, the winters shorter, back in the days when my life stretched before me like an endless highway – a highway so long that it disappeared into the horizon. With forever stretching before me, my choices were infinite and unlimited.
It’s funny how life catches up with you. As John Lennon so aptly said “...Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…“
Now the road that once stretched forever before me is much shorter and I feel the weight of time slowing me down. My choices are limited not by my imagination but by the constraints of my age and the world around me.
My dreams though are more numerous and more vivid than ever. In my dreams I am ageless, and I relive the moments of the past without limits, without age, and without constraints. And whether those dreams be good or bad, heavenly or hellish, I am ageless, I am vigorous, I am me.
Thanksgiving is here and for me, maybe for you too, this time of year lends itself to memories – both good and bad. And some of us won’t be together this year – and that’s going to leave many of us alone with our memories.
My mom died in November – the week before Thanksgiving. She died when I was ten. That memory and all the tears, heartbreak, and sadness that it brings is still as fresh as the day it happened.
I can still smell the flowers around her casket. I can smell the cloying odor of the strangely lit funeral home. I can still see my mom’s face at rest, though cosmetically enhanced, and it haunts me still. The “what ifs” flood my mind and tears fill my eyes. What would I have become had she lived?
When she died, my life was ripped apart – literally. I had to go to various places after school as my grandparents – my mom’s parents – were so distraught they were unable to be there for me then.
Later, though, they would become the most important people in my young life. Aunts and uncles who, I don’t think really wanted me, allowed me to go to their home after school. I had to wait until my dad picked me up after he got off work. I felt like a burden on the world. An unwanted problem for which no one had the solution.
Gradually, my grandparents, particularly my grandfather, gave me the love and stability I needed. In fact, my grandfather became my best friend – and to this day I have never had a better, wiser, or more loyal friend. He did everything he could to help me achieve whatever goals my dreams conjured up. He ignited my lifelong love of reading by buying me books about Babe Ruth, the solar system, the planets, and other topics he knew interested me. I became an avid reader then – I still am. He bought me my first guitar, my first Beatles’ album, encouraged me to follow my musical dreams and write songs.
Then one day, he had a stroke and died – right before my eyes. I was a young man then – not a young boy – but the impact of his death was just as profound and impactful as my mother’s death had been a dozen years earlier.
There have been other tragedies in my life, but those I’ve mentioned happened when the tree was young and those became my gnarly roots.
And sometimes, even now, all the memories of my past are colored by those two profound personal tragedies. And sometimes, if I let them, the colors from the past wash out the colors of the now. And with the colors of my life already being muted by the incessant march of time, it would be easy to allow my world to become gray.
But I won’t do that. And I can’t change time – I can’t change my age – I can’t ever be young again. But I can be thankful. I have so many things to be thankful for. And so do you.
I have too many precious things to be thankful for, but here are a few.
I’m thankful for my kids. They’ve remained close to me since they were born. I won’t seem y youngest and his family this year. He only lives a couple of hours from me, but we are not going to risk getting together.
My oldest son and his family will be here at my house for Thanksgiving this year – we’re going to be careful – and keep some distance between us and keep the windows wide open. It won’t be like any other Thanksgiving in my life. But it will be Thanksgiving, nonetheless.
I’m thankful that I’m still able to get out every day and walk for an hour. I’ve been out there every day walking in rain, snow, cold and the withering heat of summer. But the days I remember the most were not those perfect walking days. And never have I ever taken a walk without being thankful that I’m still able to do it.
I’m thankful for our little business and my partner Darcy. She’s put up with me for a long time – no easy task. And every year we struggle along trying to keep things going and before we know it, we’ve made it to the end of the year.
We look back and realize we’ve made it again. I’m thankful for that.
I’m thankful for all the friends we’ve made along the way. All of you who have supported our small business and helped us through the tough times – you’re really the reason we’re still here – thank you so much.
I’m thankful I’ve got a nice home. It’s warm and dry. I don’t need a mansion. I’m happy with what I have and thankful for all I have.
We all have a lot to be thankful for – and it isn’t the money you have in the bank. It isn’t the material things you’ve accumulated. It’s not that fancy luxury car in your driveway. The things that you have to be thankful for are easy to find.
Imagine it’s your last day on earth. What things are most important to you? “… and all your money won’t another minute buy…” If you want to know what matters most to you – imagine it’s your last day.
It won’t be your money, your real estate, your stocks, your bonds, your checking account – it won’t be any material thing. It will be the ones who love you and the ones you love. Your family, your friends, your charitable deeds, and everything you can feel with your good heart. Those are things you’ll be most thankful for on your last day.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…”
It’s Thanksgiving. It’s the time of year to look back and to give thanks. And if you think you have nothing to be thankful for, think again. You do.
Even in this crazy year, you have a lot to be thankful for. You may be struggling financially, your health may not be so good, you may not be young anymore, you may have had disappointments and let downs… but still you do have a lot to be thankful for – and so do I.
It’s time to give thanks. I have so much to be thankful for – and I’m certain that you do too.