Thinking for Themselves


IMG_5983 (1)Thinking for Themselves

The picture up there is actually a bit of an anomaly.  I let the kids have their phones and games out for this lunch only…and it was like watching something out of a Kubrick film.  Glued to screens.

But my kids are all pretty good thinkers and a lot of that is necessity as much as purposeful parenting.

I want the kids to think for themselves.  When they have  a problem I want them to come up with the answer of how to fix it.  I will guide and help but I’m not fixing it for them, not any more.  When they were little I did it all.

My best example: when my daughter had a class just “pop up” on her school schedule that she never even signed up for I told her to go to the registrar and get it fixed.  She rolled her eyes, got stressed out, and acted like I’d grown a second head.  But I made her go do it anyway.  Turned out . . . a computer glitch had affected a whole bunch of students and her name was on a list of kids now that needed it fixed.  Ignore the problem and she’d have flunked a class she didn’t even sign up to take.

When her wah-wah pedal (yes, that’s the name) for the guitar didn’t work I took it apart and made her watch me fix it.  When it broke again?  I asked if she watched me fix it the first time.
“Yes,” she said skeptically.
“Good.  Then the screwdrivers are in my toolbox,” I told her.  She was thrilled when she was able to do it herself.

I try to do the same with conflicts at school, with the kids having issues, with all of it.  When my son faced bullying and retaliation at school I tried to have him fix the problem.  He did try, and I only intervened when it was clear he truly needed my help.

This is a lesson and a necessity.  I cannot fix everything.  Between lunches, meals, laundry, the home, bills, work, shopping, and general parenting I have about an hour’s worth of time each day.  That’s it.  The rules that applied for their siblings apply to them, as well.  The idea being that if they need to get something done they’ll just buckle down and do it.

That has worked, for the most part.  When my son wanted cookies after school he asked if he could make them.  First time he forgot an ingredient.  The next time?  Perfect cookies and I didn’t have to make them.

The only time it hasn’t been as successful is when I dealt with bullying at school.  My son, though, tried to fix the problem himself.  I give him a lot of credit for that.

My reasoning?  Kids don’t need to be coddled.  I play with my kids, hug them, love them, do my best by myself to parent them.  But sometimes they need to take care of themselves, too.   When they do they understand they’re growing up and taking on more responsibility as well.  That’s a big deal, particularly as they get older.

What’s the difference?  When kids around them are helpless to understand how to deal with life, not just what happens in school, my kids have already dealt with it.  They didn’t wait.  They were ready the day I had to tell them their mother passed away and they had to face this without one of their parents. After that, nothing was really too difficult.

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Standing on Shaky Ground

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Standing on Shaky Ground

The picture is appropriate for the title, I think.  There’s a kid, standing on a group of large rocks, the soil underneath made less stable by the wash of water that has just run down the creek.  My son was trying to cross and simultaneously keep his new shoes clean and avoid falling into the water.  The ground is shaky and unstable.

It is a metaphor, by the way.

That same boy has had myriad problems at school this year.  The bigger issue isn’t what’s going on with him it’s what his father can or cannot do about it.

I have twin boys.  One is a complete extrovert, a flirt, on student council, can talk to even the most silent and stoic of people.  The other is an introvert, shy, reserved, likes movies and video games and would prefer to run around acting silly to running on a football field and getting tackled.

The lack of athleticism, or for that matter, the complete lack of interest in athletics at all, leads to problems.  In an area where soccer, football, baseball and basketball are staples and kids are enrolled in early leagues, rec leagues, competitive leagues and . . . oh yeah, the regular school teams . . . he is the odd man out.  I don’t honestly believe he’s not able to do any of the stuff it’s that a) he cannot stand when he isn’t successful instantly so screws around and b) the other kids ridicule him constantly for being unable to play at their level.

This also leads to his getting bullied at school.  He’s been hit, had his PE clothes stolen (twice) and his water bottle taken, lunch taken away and eaten, and been made completely miserable.

I have to say here that I understand what he’s going through, though nothing like the degree he faces.  When I was little I was sick a lot, had asthma when it wasn’t really a known illness, and truly didn’t have as much athletic ability.  I played basketball and tried to play football, but I actually enjoyed it.  I was made fun of because I would talk about things that fascinated me but they just didn’t fascinate anyone else.

My son would be happiest if everyone just left him to himself.  I wasn’t that way, I actually did want to play with the other kids and play basketball and such.  When it came to that I wasn’t the brunt of the abuse my son gets, I did try and wasn’t as upset when it didn’t go well.

My dilemma is the fact I don’t know how to help him.  He hit the point of it not being safe and he’s had one situation rectified.  But how do I give him the tools to get better?  How do I inform him that people like this are going to be around all his life?  I tell him, but how does he see and realize it?  Does he learn guitar more and more and show them up in a couple years when he’s screaming a solo like Marty McFly in Back to the Future?  Does he ignore it?  Do I get him boxing and build up his muscles so he can stop them in his tracks?

What we came to in a middle ground was he has to be comfortable with the solution himself.  He can certainly run and work out with me and get stronger.  He needs more confidence, which is something I didn’t have myself at that age.  It’s jr. high.  Nobody has confidence.

In the end . . . it’s as much about my finding my way with him as it is him trying to survive the battlefields of middle school.

That may just be the scariest part of all.

The Day of Remembrance

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The Day of Remembrance

I remember January 28th 1986 very vividly.

That was the day, after a series of delays due to weather, an unusually cold stretch in Florida near Cape Canaveral, that the space shuttle Challenger launched.

It was immediately after the words “Challenger go with throttle up” that the shuttle exploded.

I didn’t see it happen on live television.  I was in high school and every day I went to my grandmother’s house, just a block away from the school, for lunch.  This day was no different.  I walked into the house and the television, usually running whichever soap opera on one of only three  channels available, was not running.  Instead my grandmother asked if I’d heard what happened.  When I looked through the kitchen into the living room at their console television, they replayed the explosion and I still remember the two booster rockets, who usually separated from the fuel tank and the shuttle running separately from the remains of the shuttle that were showering down over the Atlantic.

Years before, in elementary school, the entire class . . . every class . . . had entered the library and classrooms as we watched the very first space shuttle launch into space, live.  It was a new era in space travel and it was like those pictures you saw of your parents watching Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon.

I was so bothered by the Challenger explosion I immediately went to the superintendent of our school when I got back from lunch and asked why we hadn’t been told the space shuttle had exploded?  We watched the first one go into space, why in God’s name wouldn’t they tell us about this?  I don’t remember getting a great answer, but what was he going to say? What could they say other than it happened?

It isn’t often that news events from my childhood have bled into my adult life but this is certainly one that has.

February 1st of 2003 I was at home watching the news when another shuttle lit up the sky, breaking apart.  I was a news photographer and producer and I spent almost 24 hours wandering the piney woods of Easter Texas and Wester Louisiana.  On a back highway my reporter and I had to slam on the brakes because a piece of the Columbia’s fuselage was lying in the middle of the road, the heat-resistant tiles charred and burnt.  Somewhere, miles down the road, we were shooting video when down in the ditch next to us was a mission patch, like one you’d see on the astronauts’ uniforms, lying charred in the ditch next to what looked to be a seat harness.  As we shot video a crew with a GPS locator and two red biohazard bags walked out of the woods.

I recently interviewed a former Shuttle mission specialist, Steve Robinson.  “We knew it was dangerous,” Robinson said, “but we felt it was worth it, I still feel it’s worth it,” he told me.  No shuttle had an ejection seat.  If something went wrong you tried to adjust on the shuttle and that was that.

But there are also lessons from all the space disasters that have led to new things.  In talking with Robinson and the head of human space development for Aerojet Rocketdyne, the newest NASA mission, the Orion, will have an ejection system.  It separates the crew capsule from the rocket in a millisecond and subjects them to G-forces that can make them pass out but at the very least it’s a safety measure the likes of which their predecessors didn’t have.

Today I remember the details of Challenger, the o-ring that failed, the cold and frozen pipes that were pictured after the disaster, the people on board and the bravery every astronaut takes in going up into the dangerous vacuum of space.  My superintendent took to calling me “astronaut” and “Spaceman” and “Astro-Dave” when he saw me because I was so distraught by the tragedy.

But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.

The Challenger has sparked my curiosity, my career, and I knew things about the space program and the shuttle because of everything I retained from the Challenger.  Now I see those brave men and women, have even met some of them, and Apollo-era engineers . . . and I get more giddy meeting them than when I meet politicians and TV or movie stars.

These are heroes, every one of these people brave enough to forge their way through the atmosphere as well as the people who build and engineer their way into space.

So it’s worth remembering both those who no longer can pave their way as well as those who continue to do it, in the air and on the ground.  I talked with my kids about it already this week.  We’ll talk about it more, I’m sure.

Adjusting Your Parenting

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Adjusting Your Parenting

Parenting itself is a strange occupation.  It certainly is the most important and amazing thing any person will ever undertake.

It’s also the most ridiculous.

Seriously.

Even Ikea gives you bookshelves to build with an instruction manual that any language can at least minimally understand.  Sure, there are some parts left over but as long as they stand up you’re good, right?  Kids?!  They have no instructions.  You’re given this little thing that changes not just on a daily but almost hourly basis and you’re supposed to understand what it needs by the tone of its screaming.

It must be internal wiring, then, that allows us to hear those variations in tone and pitch that get us to understand “nope…not hungry. Must be the diaper needs changing.”  That…and the fact that we feed them, then change them, then rock them anyway and get them to sleep.

But those early days, the days where only the most basic needs are the things that babies require, are universal.  Everyone from our ancestors to our grandparents to our parents went through these days and apart from the types of diapers and “Diaper Genies” and pre-measured baby formula, there’s not much difference there.

It’s when they start to talk that things changed.

I even saw things change from one child to the next.

I remember when my oldest child, now 21, sat on my lap in front of a massive PC and played CD-ROM games with me that had The Cat in the Hat along with Green Eggs and Ham and Little Critter.  It was like Sesame Street on a computer.

Now I’m at teenager phase with the other three kids.

My example of good parenting is no farther than a generation up from me, my own parents.  So when I became a single dad after losing my wife in 2011, I stuck to that example.

The problem became twofold, though. First: I was alone, there weren’t two of us parenting anymore.  So I had to adjust my time spent acting like the at-home parent to when I was at home.

Second: times have changed.

I rode my bike everywhere and grew up in a really small town.  We rode a three-wheeler in the snow and played baseball or football or basketball all day long.  We had an Atari 2600, but even that got old after awhile and you went outside and played all day.

Today we all have cell phones.  That little thing in our hands has more power than even the most powerful videogame system I ever owned as a kid.  The graphics look more real on my phone than the Sci-Fi movies I saw as a kid.

So what do you do?

You adjust.  My kids have their video games but they also have time. They go to the park.  You adjust to technology.  There are 700 channels but rarely anything on television.  You mix the old with the new.  Where they want to listen to Kendrick Lamar you mix in some Sam and Dave in the middle of it so they hear the greats.  You play Clapton after they hear Black Keys and Hendrix after 21 Pilots.

And while you adjust you also tell them how life isn’t all that different. You are here, stable, holding them and shaping their day just like your parents did.

Technology and society may have changed and you have had to adjust to them.  Still, your basics remained the same: you’re there. So no matter where they are you will be there.

That’s not much of an adjustment.

What Comes This Year?

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What Comes This Year?

I got an email yesterday out-of-the-blue from a company asking me what adventure . . . what bucket-list things . . . what was going to happen this year?

That’s actually a fortuitous question as I have a lot that may happen this year.  Some of it involves my kids.  Much of it actually does not.

As children get older they tend to have their own lives and their own things they want to do.  So as a result many of their ideas for what the year brings are different than mine, but we will still go out, do things, be adventurous on our own.

Together?  The kids all want to see the volcanic area of far northern California, so we’ll make a trip at some point to Mount Lassen.  When it’s warmer and the snow isn’t an issue, of course.

One child wants to try out for basketball.  Another is running for Fall student council.

Bucket list?  Well…I’m not ready to kick said bucket, but regardless, a couple of those items will tick off this year.

David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd, is playing the Hollywood Bowl in the Spring.  I’m going.  No question.  Tickets in-hand, trip ready, all set.

Sometime in the spring as well?  I plan on hitting the recording studio to begin work on a solo record.  I’ve been working the material for a long time.  It’s really time to get it set to tape and release it.  Will it sell?  Who knows?  But I have to get it out.  Kind of killing me not to do that.

There are a million other things I’d love to do but we will see.

I want to see the site of the first nuclear explosion.  I know, that’s weird and a bit off-the-path, but still a totally strange thing I’d be able to tell people I did.

I want to go back to the Midwest and see family.  Not a bucket list thing, but we’ll do it anyway.

Yosemite.  We did it once, and it’s close by so why not?  Our first trip was a bit odd . . . for personal reasons.  We’ll do it right this time.

To be fair, this whole post was actually inspired by that company’s marketing person emailing me.  Maybe it was a robot email.  Maybe it wasn’t.  They say they have a contest and are pushing readers of sites like mine to enter . . . as part of their outdoor gear company.  If you’re interested, you can go here and explore the company’s website.

I will be up-front and tell you that I do not actually own anything from the company nor am I able to give an endorsement as I haven’t used anything from Cotopaxi.  Not saying they’re bad, either, just that they contacted me.  Regardless, an interesting email and it did inspire me to write so for that reason I thank them.

But it does beg the question . . . what does your 2016 look like?

Human Decency

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Human Decency

I saw what might be one of the worst things I’ve seen someone in the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad suburbs do this morning.

In the middle of a large amount of wind mixed with pelting rain parents like me were in line trying to drop their kids off at school.  That’s not such a big deal, many of us do this every single morning of every single weekday when the schools are in session.

But this morning I had dropped my boys at the school, turned at the light, and was making my way back through the neighborhood.  That direction takes me back past the high-school on my right and it’s adjoined to an elementary school.  My boys’ middle school went back into session after the holidays.  The elementary school was not.

Yet there are still kids, living in the neighborhood behind the elementary school, who have to get to the Middle School.  There’s a crosswalk there and a four-way stop.

So this morning a little girl, maybe 6th grade, was waiting to cross.  I’m not a friendly driver, I admit that, and I tend to get frustrated with others on the road.  No road rage, just stress and high blood pressure.

But a little girl with a pink umbrella and little pink rain boots?  What kind of cold-hearted person doesn’t stop for that?

Someone on the other side . . . the northbound lanes.  Once I had stopped, facing south, the woman in the car just to my left stopped as well.  The little girl, bright pink, was trying desperately to keep dry and cross the street.

That’s when some idiot got angry and decided to try and go northbound anyway.  When the little girl looked up and saw the car, the minivan honked…and honked…and got angry and the little girl just trying to legally cross the street.  In the rain.  In the crosswalk.  As she jumped the wind grabbed her umbrella, pulled her into the intersection and the minivan honked several more times, mouthed something with an angry look at the girl, and slammed on their brakes, honking all while the girl crossed in front of the people.

This is part and parcel with a lot of crazy things.

When you go on a date with a woman, something I tell my sons, you should pay.  If you ask that person on a date or to lunch or even just coffee, you…should…pay.  It’s human decency.

You should hold the door open.  Not just for women, girls, grandmas, etc…but everyone.  Don’t race and hold “door close” on the elevator.

I don’t want to get on a Dennis Miller style rant here, but we all have hurried, crazy, silly lives.  I have a job during the day and a job at night taking care of the kids.  I get up extra early to get lunches made and exercise a little and get ready for school.  But when things I was taught by my mother and father to do arise . . . I do them.  There’s 30 seconds to stop for that little girl in the crosswalk so she doesn’t look like a character in a Buster Keaton movie.

The upside was someone in the other lane pulled up beside the mean person who almost hit that little girl . . . and abruptly told them off through the window in the rain . . . and honked at them.

At least some people recognized…it’s not always all about themselves.

Another Year

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Another Year

I noticed just today, as I got an alert that there was a bunch of traffic on this site . . . that I haven’t written here in awhile.

Let me explain, for those who might subscribe, or want to read, or the less likely few who might wonder “why?”

There’s a pretty simple explanation.

I haven’t really needed to write.

This isn’t some epiphany, I haven’t had a resurgence of religious fervor or fallen down a well or freaked out or anything.  I’ve simply not needed to do it.

I started writing here, I’ve said before, because it was honestly helpful.  Think of it as an online journal, a way to express the really good, really bad, and in-between when I needed to get all that feeling and reality out of my head so I could move forward with my day.

Most of the things I’ve written, some of it more than four years ago, came from the darkest part of my life up to this point.  I was grieving.  I would run at 1,000 mph with the kids, cooking, cleaning, laundering . . . and then they would go to bed.

…and all was silence.

The only thing left were the voices inside my head, the worries, the memories, the grief, and the panic.  They all swirled around.  When the kids wouldn’t listen; when there were bad grades; when I had to face punishments and there was no one left to back me, just me.

8:30pm through midnight were the worst hours of my life and the times I wrote, every weekday, about what went on in my household.

But as I said, a strange thing has happened.  Maybe not strange, wonderful perhaps.  Joyous? Loving?

This coming year, 2016, will mark a year where there has been more happiness than disappointment.  Not as many screw-ups and nowhere near the panic or disappointment that were there.  Tears that are shed come mostly from laughing so hard.  When letters, cards, pictures or other things of my late wife appear they’re happy memories, not bad ones.

So 2016 comes and we have made plans, have been moving, thinking, and creating.  College beckons for one kid, graduating college is on the horizon for the following year too.  My boys are reaching out and doing more than they ever had before and doing it separately.  Student Council, Academic Clubs, guitar, reading, writing, basketball . . . all my kids are doing amazing things, things that I didn’t anticipate.

Things we hadn’t done before.

The year is a new one, and it’s a blank canvas.  It’s an empty page awaiting the first grey and silver smudge from the pencil as it hits the paper.  It’s waiting for us to tell the story . . . and it will get told.

But it doesn’t always get told for all to see.

As much as I wrote it was never everything that happened in our home, that would be impossible, impractical, and self-aggrandizing.

No . . . this last year has seen something extraordinary.  It saw us all becoming the people and family we are today.  It saw us being influenced by the past but not living within the past.

A new year holds so much promise . . . we just have to live up to that.

After the last year?  We might just be able to do it, too.

Going on an Adventure!

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Going on an Adventure!

Once in awhile you have a day that’s just filled with crap.

Seriously.

I mean . . . people tell me they’re jealous because I took a day off the other day.  “A bad day off is still better than a good day at work, right?”

That’s probably the case, I suppose, but I wasn’t looking forward to this day.

The boy up there had two dental appointments for his braces…which then turned into three.  I started dropping off his two siblings at school, picking him back up, hitting the road, and going to the orthodontist.  They took off his retainer, said they saw a spot on a molar . . . so we set an appointment for the afternoon at the dentist.

So we had time to kill.  We were too far from home to go there . . . we’d just have to turn around and go back.  So we decided to make the most of our day, just me and my son.  We got hot chocolate (okay, mine was coffee) and looked at books at a Barnes and Noble nearby.

We had lunch and ate waaaay too much.

Then we found this mall adjacent to the too-busy and crazy shopping mall.

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We found a fountain, synced up to the music, and my son got up and acted like the conductor.  (There’s video, but couldn’t get it to upload, sorry!)

IMG_5884We sat on benches, he on a butterfly, arms apart, acting like he was flying.  It was adorable.  I laid on a bench of leaves and said “I’m a leaf on the wind…” and told him my nerdy friends would be the only ones to get the reference.

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We took a photo of this strange, almost inappropriate dummy, with the apron’s bow strategically placed to cover the most delicate of areas, I suppose.  I posted a picture of it, said it “cracked me up” and took ownership of the pun.  It wasn’t until a day later that a Facebook friend told me they worked for the store – Sur La Table.  We jokingly called it “tushiegate” and they had the dummy tactfully re-dressed, so to speak.

My point to all this is . . . we could have, say, drank coffee, been bored, but instead we had fun.  Not often do you get a chance to be just with one of the kids an when you do don’t squander it.  We had a blast.  We ate too much, had cookies from a tiny little kiosk in the middle of the plaza, and then wandered around, bought Christmas presents, and wrapping paper.

So when it came time to go back to the orthodontist things weren’t all that bad.  In fact, we were a little sorry the day was over.

But it’s part and parcel to how we do things now.  It’s not boredom that you have to overcome it’s actually your own mind and procrastination.

Once you get up and start moving . . . the opportunities just kind of present themselves . . . like a dummy wearing nothing but an apron.

New Traditions

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New Traditions

I used to wait until the 1st or 2nd week of December, at the least, to do the decorations on my home.  This was something that started years before, when I figured we needed to recover from the event that was, every year, the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s not that I fought the commercialization of Christmas – though I hated that the stores were playing Christmas carols right after Halloween.  It wasn’t even laziness.  I inevitably had a house filled with people – my family, my wife’s family whatever.  If they weren’t in my house I was at theirs.  If my family, travel was involved.  If my wife’s family, there’s always the stress of being with family and such.

Yet things changed.

2011, after my wife passed away, Christmas was just . . . weird.  That’s right, I said weird.  I didn’t know how to get everything alone, decorate the house, none of it.  Christmas was always a huge holiday for me growing up, I loved it, and it seemed like some of that magic had been stolen away.  It had drifted somehow.  There was a part of me, though, a part of my kids too, that wouldn’t let it go without a fight.

So when I got my feet things changed.

We have an artificial tree.  I didn’t want to keep that up.  If that was the way things were then we would have it different.  The way things are, then, is that we go get a real tree.  Since my daughter had headed off to college, I went the weekend of Thanksgiving and we got that tree.

My wife had been a superb decorator.  It was far more than what I could or would have done.  Sometimes I bristled under the constraints, like limits on lights or what lights or how to put up the lights.  She also made gorgeous tree decorations and we were only allowed to use those.

But when we were without her I realized we had boxes filled with decorations that she had made, my kids had made . . . even I had made.  We’d softened that “annual style” idea to one that included many of those before my wife passed away.  Now that it was my house only . . . the themes kind of drifted.  It wasn’t a nostalgic theme, it was putting the ornaments on we wanted to put on the tree.  As a result the house and the tree are a hodgepodge.  So is my house.  That way it matches perfectly our personalities, the broken, bent, re-shaped style that we all have.  That’s our decoration, too.

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I got new lights and that same weekend every year we put them on the house.  My son, who is afraid of heights, started coming up on the roof and helping me install them.  We put reindeer on the lawn.  I put garland on the porch.

It’s an all-day event, with the tree, the house, all of it.

Certainly, you could call them new traditions.  It wasn’t intentionally shutting out the old ones.  It was merging the new with the old.  I had lost a lot . . . I wasn’t going to lose Christmas.

This year we did it again.  A huge tree – bigger than I wanted, but then I am a sucker for Christmas.  I put the lights up, added some to another tree, and worried not one lick about if it was too much.  It wasn’t.  I already have some presents, too.

We took what was an old set of traditions, ones that could have hurt terribly, and made them our own.  Re-shaping the ideas into ones that match our current lives, states of mind, and feelings.  That’s not a bad thing, it was a good thing.

They are new traditions, and we never lost the magic that Christmas brings as a result.  That’s what was – if you’ll excuse the cheesy line – so magical about it all.

Thankfulness

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Thankfulness

We used to do this thing over Thanksgiving that made all the kids groan and me roll my eyes and it was totally something that we did to make their mother happy.  We went around the table and told everyone what we’re thankful for.  It sounds callous, but one of the things we were probably thankful for that first Thanksgiving alone was the fact that we didn’t have to do this any more.

The funny thing about that is we actually have things to say and reasons to be thankful . . . more than the atypical “I’m thankful for my toys and my family and my house and . . . ” that used to come out of our mouths before.

So why didn’t I re-instigate the tradition? Well…part of me realized I just didn’t need to.  My kids, in particular, tell me all the time the things they are thankful to have.

When I make a particularly difficult dinner . . . or a simple dinner . . . the kids all say “thank you, Dad!” and it’s not just the automatic, kid in a classroom “good morning mister Manoucheri” kind of thing.  They say it with actual feeling.  (They could just be good actors, too, but tell me if that’s the case.)  When they get a gift it is really a gift, they know that either we have saved up for that or that there was some money we had and I chose to use it on them.  They don’t see that as a privilege they see it as a plus.

So what are we so thankful about?  The world moves around its axis at roughly 1040 miles per hour.  That is about the speed of life, too, I think.  We could easily forget how we got where we are moving so fast, with technology, cars, work, school, everything around us.  With all that swirling around we should be caught up in the maelstrom that is life, right?

Yet we enjoy things and manage to ride out the rotation.

IMG_5837Maybe you go pick up a Christmas tree with no reason behind it whatsover.  Maybe it’s at a lot and maybe it’s a tradition . . . and we have a tradition going to the same place every year.  But there are great things to see in that.  The owner of IMG_5838the place walked up to us after I stopped and snapped these photos of them cutting down the tree all by themselves.  “You have been here the last few years,” he told me.  “When you get all your business in 60 days you remember the loyal customers!” They take care of us so we do the same.  It costs a little more . . . but we got to play in the snow, have hot chocolate, cut the tree, they tie it all down, and it is an experience for all of us.

We had dinner with family, something we’ve done too little of this year, so we appreciated it all the more on Thanksgiving.  My oldest was home from college and we got to have the evening with her, a now 21-year-old adult enjoying a beer with her old man.  A little surreal, but the enormity of it not lost.

I am thankful for serendipity and meeting people and working and living and enjoying everything from movies at the theater to dinner to a night outside by a fire.

There are a million things to be thankful about.  Sometimes you just have to realize they are there . . . and ignore the speed at which the world is zooming by.

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