But this year when I was heading toward Thanksgiving, I couldn’t help thinking more about what I was missing than what I still have.
I appreciate that the pilgrims and native Americans had a good time almost 400 years ago eating lobster, rabbit, carrots and squash. I also appreciate that the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” also convinced Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. I’m not even upset about the fact that a few days of going from family dinner to family dinner will hit the reset button on a diet I have been on for more than six weeks.
Thanksgiving was harder than normal this year.
Every time I began to count my blessings and enumerate all of the things in my life for which I am thankful, I kept coming across an idea that was bittersweet.
Thinking about how thankful I was to have enjoyed so many years with my dad before he passed away this fall, was not one of those warm and happy Thanksgiving thoughts.
In fact, being thankful was becoming quite depressing. Thoughts would begin on the grateful end of the spectrum and wander over to the sad and still grieving side pretty quickly.
And then I saw my oldest son in a play.
He wasn’t spectacular as a lead character. As a third grader in a group of little thespians who ranged in age from third to eighth grade, he was awarded a role as a dog in a play called The Aristocats. You can imagine the artistic burden he carried.
But he had so much fun that after six performances in two days, he was not ready to stop. He would have continued for another week.
He didn’t get that from me.
I can fake my way through public speaking but my artistic enterprise is confined to writing. Blake loves to be on stage.
He is not a chip off the old block. We brought Dawit home from Ethiopia a little over a year ago and he is more like me than Blake is.
That made me thankful.
It isn’t that I didn’t want him to be like me. But this is one of the few ways that I am like my dad. My dad raised a son that was nothing like him too.
Like Blake, more people would compare me to my mom.
So as I go to musicals in between soccer and basketball practices and watch him read far better than he hits a ball, I am thankful that my dad taught me to raise an individual.
I’m sure that I didn’t meet dad’s checklist for the “perfect son” although he never did anything but support me in whatever I was doing.
I see some of that in myself.
As Blake and Dawit grow up and their interests change, I hope I am able to show the same ability my dad did to selflessly enjoy them and their interests.
College basketball coach Jim Valvano once said something that rings true to me.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me,” he said.
My dad was always a supporter and safety net for me. I am thankful for that.
I am also thankful for two sons who don’t always think or act like me because they give me a chance – in some small way - to be more like my dad.